A Canadian review has confirmed what most fitness and wellness professionals have been thinking: kids need more physical activity. While schools may receive high marks for scholastic achievements, the researchers gave physical education an F. The review was published in the first 2009 issue of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2009; doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007651) and was designed to “summarize the evidence of the effectiveness of school-based interventions in promoting physical activity and fitness in children and adolescents.” After combing through 26 relevant studies of participants aged 6–18, the reviewers determined that school-based physical activity programs are associated with a higher degree of health and wellness among students. “There is good evidence that school-based physical activity interventions are effective in increasing duration of physical activity, reducing blood cholesterol and time spent watching television and increasing VO2max,” stated the reviewers. “At a minimum, a combination of printed educational materials and changes to the school curriculum that promote physical activity result in positive effects in four of the nine outcomes.”
One organization seeking to enhance physical education components in schools is HealthCorps®, a “proactive health movement” developed by cardiac surgeon and best-selling author Mehmet Oz, MD. HealthCorps is modeled after the Peace Corps and is a “school-based program [that] shows teens practical life skills through fun, interactive school seminars focused on the value and power of students’ bodies and minds,” states information on the HealthCorps website. To learn more about this program, visit www.healthcorps.net.