Improving kids’ bodies – and minds – by requiring recess

Originally published March 24, 2019 in the Rome News-Tribune.

By Andy Miller, Georgia Health News

Kids love school recess: Kicking a soccer ball, clambering up a jungle gym, chasing each other on a playground.

And such unstructured play is not just fun, researchers say. Recess can help improve academic performance and reduce fidgety behavior and negative conduct in the classroom, health experts say. Read More

Gym Class Is Dead—But Long Live Physical Education

Originally published Jan. 1, 2019 by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

By Ingrid Johnson and Mike Ginicola, Principal Leadership Article

Students emerge from the locker room in their lime-green trainers, knee-high tube socks, black shorts, and white  T-shirt—it’s time for gym class!

By now you’re probably envisioning gym teachers from the many satirical movies that portray physical education class as an environment of jocks versus geeks where only the strong survive. You might even be thinking about your own childhood experiences. In either case, it’s time to end the old-school misconceptions of gym class. Read More

physical education classes

Let’s get physical — Why Penn should offer for-credit physical education classes

Originally published Nov. 1 in The Daily Pennsylvanian


At an academically competitive school like Penn, it isn’t hard to find a student whose most dreaded high school course was [physical education]. [P.E.] class was often a bizarre interlude in an otherwise normal school day. Jerry Seinfeld described it well: “You had English, Social Studies, Geometry, then suddenly you’re in ‘Lord of the Flies’ for 40 minutes.”

However, beyond the clear physical benefits of exercise, college students who regularly work out are often more focused, less stressed, and have sharper memories. For these reasons, we believe that Penn should utilize its existing athletic facilities and offer for-credit physical education elective courses. Read More

Students Improve Longevity and Academic Readiness Through Exercise at an Elevated Heart Rate

Research Correlates Exercise at an Elevated Heart Rate to Benefits that Include Improved Cognitive Performance

IHT designed the Spirit System to focus students on minutes of exercise at an elevated heart rate because academic research shows conclusively that exercise at an elevated heart rate correlates to increased longevity, improved cognitive performance, and self-regulation and classroom functioning among children.

There are different philosophies about the key fitness metrics in evaluating fitness activities such as step counts, time to run a given distance, calories burned, and minutes of elevated heart rate. Our philosophy of focusing on minutes of elevated heart rate aligns with the Center for Disease Control’s 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans1 standards which recommend:

  • “children and adolescents aged 6 to 17 years should have 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day” and
  • “most of the 60 or more minutes a day should be either moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity at least 3 days a week.”

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Don’t skip the gym: PE important to learning, academic success

Originally published June 23, 2018 by WRVO Public Media.

With the demand for schools to focus more on academics and less on gym class, many districts in the U.S. have cut back students’ physical education times or eliminated them completely. However, an author and authority on the connection between brain activity and fitness said the two goals of fitness and academic success are not mutually exclusive.

Dr. John Ratey, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and internationally recognized expert on neuropsychiatry, spoke with “Take Care” about the importance of physical exercise on brain development, especially when it comes to adolescents. Read More