The Center for Disease Control claims that "children and adolescents should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day." Despite this recommendation, studies show that nearly 40% of all children watch more than 3 hours of TV per day. Combined with school, homework and sleep, that doesn't leave much time in the day for physical activity. As a result, children are moving less, eating more and becoming unhealthy.
The Philadelphia School District, like many other school districts, are taking steps to combat this problem. The 2008 Philadelphia School Health Profiles found that, among middle and high school schools in the district, 44% required students to take two or more health education courses and 92% taught a required physical education course in all grades in the school. This is encouraging news.
At my daughter's school, gym is offered two times per week. On those days, the dress code is a bit more relaxed (sweats are okay) in order to accommodate physical activity.
To be honest, gym was my daughter's worst subject last year. She's not a "joiner" and tends to better in sports like swimming, where she can be content to be by herself. I'm thrilled, however, that gym is required and enforced at the school - not only does she need the physical activity, she needs the interaction with other kids, too (I happen to be a big believer that team sports build character).
Healthy initiatives for the rest of the school - including healthy snacks and help in making good meal choices - are also in the works. With health concerns for children on the rise, I'm glad to see that Philly schools are addressing the issue.