Children Should Be Running 1 Mile Each Day
Research suggests that children should be doing no fewer than 15 minutes of exercise everyday, with the promise that it will completely transform their lives.
It was the headteacher of a Scottish school who first suggesting that the children in her school should be doing more exercise as they ‘were not fit’. As a school, they decided that they would go outside for fifteen minutes everyday in order to build up their fitness, and by the summer every class, could run for fifteen minutes without stopping, sparking The Daily Mile to be born.
Since this first school took the initiative to do this, more than 3,600 primary schools across 35 countries are now doing it. There is now evidence that doing this has great benefits. Earlier this month, researchers looked at 391 children at two different primary schools. After seven months of them completing The Daily Mile, the children who had been doing it could run 5% further during a timed shuttle run test than those who had not been doing it. There were other benefits as well; they had increased their physical activity by nine minutes a day, and reduced their total sedentary time by 18 minutes. On top of this the children who took part also noticed a 4% reduction in the size of their skin folds, which is a great benefit when you consider that 30% of children between the ages of 7 and 22 in England and Scotland are overweight or obese.
Naomi Brooks, who led the study said;
“Children often learn about healthy eating and the benefits of physical activity at school, but the kids who are doing the Daily Mile aren’t just learning it in their minds; they are learning: ‘This is something I do every day, as part of my day, and this is how it makes me feel’”.
The Department of Health has also added that children over the age of five should be engaging in at least an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise everyday – a figure that very few children achieve. These activities include walking to school, riding a scooter, or cycling, playing chase, football, dancing or swimming. One of the problems is that parents just aren’t aware of how much exercise their children should be getting; however, it is so important that youngsters are getting the right amount of exercise when they are younger, as research suggests that the fitter you are when you are 18, the less likely you will be to develop cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks later on in life.
In response to the Daily Mile taking children out of their lessons, Dr Rachel Sharman, a sleep researcher believes that it could actually help their learning, saying;
“Bright light directly influences and activates areas of the brain that control alertness and cognition…In primary school children, exercising outdoors for 15 minutes is unlikely to have much effect because they are already relatively early birds. However; at puberty, the circadian clock delays…In teenagers, an early morning mile could pull the clock a little earlier, waking the teen up, when their bodies are – from a circadian rhythm perspective – still asleep. In terms of learning, we would then expect the teen to be in a better place, cognitively, to learn in those first few lessons of the day. Equally, by pulling the clock earlier, a teenager may then find that their body clock signals when it’s time for bed earlier the next night, meaning they get more sleep.”