Many parents look back in fondness on their school days: hanging out with friends, playing sports, cycling and exploring the neighborhood. Today’s students often face a different type of life, one in which they spend much of their time either in the classroom or in their room, with little to no exercise in between.
A new study conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore is raising alarms on student activity - or the lack of it.
The research team looked at more than 12,500 people’s exercise habits by having them wear fitness trackers for a week. When they separated that data by age, they found something alarming about teenagers.
“Activity levels at the end of adolescence were alarmingly low, and by age 19, they were comparable to 60-year-olds,” says the study’s senior author, Vadim Zipunnikov.
Children between ages 5 and 17 are supposed to get 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise in a day, according to ‘World Health Organization’ guidelines, but more than 25 percent of boys and 50 percent of girls between ages 6 and 11 did not meet those guidelines, and 50 percent of boys and 75 percent of girls between ages 12 and 19 did not meet the threshold.
“For school-age children, the primary window for activity was the afternoon between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.,” Zipunnikov said. “So, the big question is, how do we modify daily schedules, in schools, for example, to be more conducive to increasing physical activity?”
Florida Prep is already well ahead in answering that question.
Realizing that regular exercise plays a huge part in a student’s mental health, in addition to physical well-being, Florida Prep students are able to participate in a large number of activities each day, such as competitive team sports, table tennis or a pick-up game of flag-football.
We encourage spontaneity: sometimes a game of tag will develop in the Middle School courtyard, or a teacher v. student game will be called for bragging rights in softball, or dodgeball – everyone gets moving!
Participation in an official team sport is not mandatory at Florida Prep; however, during the past academic year over 70% of our students did so.
For some, it was their first time playing a sport, and many never imagined they would one day represent their school!
Given our small size, Florida Prep is able to offer students the opportunity to ‘try-out’ sports without the fear of failure. Our philosophy is one of inclusion; our students will always play regardless of their ability, and for those who simply cannot imagine playing ‘anything’ we encourage outdoor time and playing an active role in supporting their peers during competitions on campus.
We also continue to mandate Physical Education to our Middle School students and offer it as an elective in High School. Commenting on the many programs at Florida
Prep, Athletics Director Joe Burley says: “Given the number of exercise options available on campus, I am confident that the majority of our students are meeting or beating the thresholds set by the World Health Organization. As we continue to introduce more electives, such as surfing and lacrosse into our schedule, we hope our students will find their passion and continue to make physical exercise an integral part of their lives, now and in the future”.