Home > Fitness > News 24 May 2013 Exercise should be core subject at school Schools need to boost efforts to get students moving, and make gym class as critical as other core subjects if they want to increase test scores as well as students' general well-being, experts say. 0 iStock Related Children who exercise are stronger Fit kids may dodge fractures in old age Should kids sit less or move more? take a Flexibility test » Receive Health tips » Ask Fitness Expert » Join Health24 on Facebook » 10 minute bikini-ready workout Why you need strength to run Schools need to boost efforts to get students moving, and make gym class as critical as other core subjects if they want to increase test scores as well as students' general well-being, a leading group of health advisers said.The US Institute of Medicine called for younger students to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day in school and older students 45 minutes, with at least half that time spent moving vigorously.Federal guidelines recommend that children and teenagers get at least one hour of daily physical activity but few do, especially as more schools cut gym classes to make more time to prepare for academic testing, the institute's influential panel of independent experts said.Federal health officials should step in to designate physical education as a core academic subject, they said."Although most states currently have laws addressing physical education requirements in schools, there are no consistent nationwide policies," the panellists wrote in a report."Like most of the population of the United States, children and adolescents have grown accustomed to a sedentary lifestyle," panellists said. Their recommendation comes on the heels of a renewed push against childhood obesity as well as disenchantment with the academic testing under the 2001 No Child Left Behind law. Not enough time spent exercisingWhile aimed at boosting achievement and making US students more competitive, a growing number of states have opted out of the requirements, saying they need more flexibility.Since the law passed, 44% of school administrators have said they have cut "significant time" from gym classes and recess to focus on reading and mathematics, according to the nearly 400-page report, which was requested by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a non-profit research group that advocates for better public health.Earlier this year, First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign announced a $70 million effort led by Nike Inc, General Mills Inc, health insurer Kaiser Permanente and others to help students get one hour of daily activity.A growing body of data suggests increased physical activity can have a positive impact on students' academic performance, panellists added.It could also help in the effort to fight fat in a nation where nearly one in five youth - 12.5 million young Americans - are obese and another third are overweight, making them more likely to be too heavy as adults.Attention is increasingly turning to schools to help, not only through exercise but by also improving school meals.Representatives at the US Department of Education could not be immediately reached for comment on the recommendations, but Education Secretary Arne Duncan has linked good health to improved learning."We know active students are better able to engage in the classroom and excel academically," he said at the February event launching the first lady's partnership. "We need more of our schools creating environments that promote physical activity and play and encourage our students to get moving." More in Fitness Helmets don't always prevent motocross injuries in kids More: FitnessNews advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 0 comments Comments have been closed for this article. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... Other news Lifestyle Legal marijuana unlikely to tempt more kids Fitness Boosting muscle strength may improve memory Lifestyle Women catching up fast with male alcohol use Parenting Epidural better than 'laughing gas' for labour pain Parenting Infants should share parents' room to help prevent SIDS Lifestyle Blood for transfusion doesn't have to be fresh From our sponsors Keep an eye on your vision Which skin products are better, ‘medical grade’ or ‘over-the-counter’? 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