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Why Physical Activity at Recess is So Important


There’s a reason why kids love recess - they can take a break from learning, engage with peers and exert energy in a healthy manner. The American Academy of Pediatrics stresses the importance of recess due to its social, emotional, cognitive and physical benefits. In fact, schools are discouraged from keeping kids in for academic or behavioral reasons.

Let’s look closer at the top reasons why physical activity during recess is crucial to happy, healthy and productive students.

Take a Break from the Classroom

On average, kids spend between six and seven hours in the classroom each day. Much of this time is spent sitting at a desk, especially now during the pandemic. This means that kids have little time to get up, move around and release their energy.

Research shows that kids learn best when they’re given adequate breaks. Regular breaks help them stay focused and on-task. Kids also experience less anxiety around projects and tests because being active releases feel-good endorphins in the brain.

Improve Peer Relationships

When kids have the chance to be outside with their peers, they can find common ground. A group of boys might go off to play soccer, while another group of kids may hang out on the monkey bars. Whatever they choose to do, kids are given the opportunity to role play and practice social skills.

Not only that but being physically active on the playground also promotes sharing, problem solving and coping skills. Imagine how much better students can work together in the classroom to solve problems, take turns and recognize each others’ strengths.

Avoid Sedentary Lifestyles

It’s recommended for kids to get at least 30-60 minutes of unstructured outdoor play every day. Sadly, most kids don’t. Between daycare, extracurricular activities and working schedules, many kids end up sitting in front of electronic devices after school.

By offering recess during the school day, kids are given a chunk of time for creative play. They can meet the recommended amount of physical activity for the day and prevent childhood obesity and sedentary behaviors. Making physical activity a priority also establishes healthy habits in kids.

Limit Disruptive Behaviors

A half hour on the elementary school playground can also reduce disruptive behaviors in the classroom. Some children have a lot of energy, and if they’re not able to release it during recess, they’ll cause disruption in the classroom. Letting kids play outside gives them a chance to take a break and have some control over their day.

Kids with mental health disorders or attention deficit disorders especially need time to clear their mind and release bottled-up anxiety. Without this time to be active, kids get caught in a downward spiral that can have a negative impact on their lives.

Keeping Kids Active and Healthy at School

Without a doubt, recess is an important part of the school day. For better behaved students and improved academic performance, schools must make sure their students are getting adequate time to be active outdoors. To discuss your school’s needs for an elementary school playground, contact the experts at Cunningham Recreation today.