Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Running Clubs O.K. for Young Students: Physical Activity Leads to Focus and Fitness
Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign has made childhood obesity a hot-button issue and pushed many school systems to implement updated cafeteria options and activity requirements. But money is tight and many schools aren’t able to enforce P.E. classes or healthy eating. Is there an inexpensive way to help our children become healthy adults? One Maryland school found a simple solution… running.
At Orchard Grove Elementary School in Frederick, MD, a bare-bones running club helps students gain confidence, lose weight, and improve their test scores while significantly upping their level of fitness.
Frustrated by unfocused students and eager to get kids active, Orchard Grove’s P.E. teacher created a 1/5 mile running loop marked off with orange cones around the hilly area behind the school several years ago. For every 25 completed laps, runners received a small charm shaped like a shoe and admission to the “mileage club”. The students love the friendly competition and earning the small incentives quickly became a status symbol among the elementary schoolers. Today, 99% of students participate in the club along with supportive faculty and staff!
Teachers note that their students seem more alert and less fidgety in the classroom, while the head of the school has seen a significant drop in misbehavior. Students are even faring better on standardized tests because teachers are able to spend more time reviewing material when they are not disciplining antsy children.
Leaving childhood obesity in their dust, the “mileage club” runners at Orchard Grove are on the path to becoming active, healthy adults. The benefits of this program are enormous and the cost is next to nothing. The running club concept is simply structured such that any school can add the program and see results.