A Movement for a FIT and Healthy America
The Cost of Obesity in the USA in 2013 Keeps Rising



“If you are sitting still for too long, your brain doesn’t work.”

SILVER SPRING, MD – May 10, 2016 – Students who don’t sit still during the school day are actually excelling in the classroom.  Really?  Yes……and there’s evidence to support that claim.

Schools in New Jersey and Washington, D.C. are generating great academic results by keeping their students physically active.  Giving children access to daily P.E. and recess while at school are the reasons why the students are excelling in their academic studies.  The schools in both New Jersey and Washington, D.C. are following a proven pathway to performance:  physical activity breaks during the school day produce academic achievement.  By giving the students a daily dose of physical activity, their academic results are more than just good, they are eye-opening, according to their teachers.

At the Alexander Hamilton Academy in Paterson, New Jersey, 7th and 8th grade students are not told to just sit in their chairs during class.  Instead, they are encouraged to move their bodies while being taught by their teachers.  It’s called kinesthetic learning and it works. 

We learned that a moving body means a working mind,” says Kaitlyn Brock, a teacher at Alexander Hamilton Academy.

Brock has attached Bouncy Bands at each desk in her classroom so her students can move their bodies while seated at their desks.  Giving students an outlet to release built-up energy allows them to focus on their studies, according to Brock.

I have seen a change in my students after the introduction of Bouncy Bands,” notes Brock.  “Even during quiet individual work, the students are still moving and allowed to work their frustrations or energy out on the band.”

Prior to the introduction of the Bouncy Bands, students were always looking for reasons to get up from their seats.

Brock’s concept of keeping her students active while in the classroom has caught the attention of her principal who has now secured enough financial support to buy Bouncy Ball chairs for the schools’ classrooms. 

“That was the first real push to provide movement in the classroom,” adds Brock.  “It is also great to see that it is being used through a variety of all grade levels from elementary to middle school.”

“If you are sitting still for too long, your brain doesn’t work,” stated Barry Bachenheimer, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment for the Pascack Valley Regional High School District in Paterson, in the story by NorthJersey.com.

In the Washington, D.C. area schools, students who receive more P.E. are producing better math scores.  The key amount of P.E. is at least 90 minutes a week, though the goal is 150 minutes a week for elementary school students and 225 minutes a week for middle-school age students in D.C.  That’s a conclusion reached by researchers at American University who have been examining the effectiveness of D.C.’s Healthy Schools Act, legislation which is designed to improve the health and wellness of students attending D.C. public and public charter schools.  News of this academic achievement was reported recently in the Washington Post. 

“Research tells us that healthier students are better learners, and the results of our study support this,” says Erin Watts, MPH, American University, Department of Health Studies.  “The Healthy Schools Act places great emphasis on physical education and activity, and we found that schools that offer more physical education also report higher standardized test scores.”

“These stories about the role of physical activity enhancing academic performance are confirmed by other research,” says Jim Baugh, Founder of PHIT America, which is dedicated to getting America active and reversing the ‘Inactivity Pandemic.’  “It is obvious to us that the ‘sit & learn’ approach to education gets a failing grade. Ever since schools took P.E. and recess out of the school day, our education ranking versus other developed countries has declined. Getting kids to move strengthens the body but, more importantly, it wakes up the brain. In a nutshell, increased physical activity equals better academics.”

If students’ minds are to work efficiently in the classroom, then it’s necessary to jumpstart their bodies in the gym.  That’s the major takeaway from the study The Relation of Childhood Physical Activity to Brain Health, Cognition and Scholastic Achievement.  Many of the findings of the report were published in Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development.

“Evidence has suggested that short bouts of physical activity (i.e., 20 minutes of walking on a treadmill) lead to positive changes in brain function, cognition/attention, and academic performance on achievement tests of math and reading,” says Professor Charles Hillman, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, the lead author on the story that appeared on Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development.

“I challenge academic leaders in the U.S. to change and adopt an academic curriculum which includes daily physical activity for the students.  Children need it to learn,” concludes Baugh.  All school districts in the U.S. need to follow the example set by the schools in Washington, D.C. and Paterson, New Jersey.”