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Is Your School Measuring Up?
At Ergotron we spend a lot of time talking about the importance of low-level physical activity. As the first company to introduce sit-stand workstations to the market and a long-time supporter of sedentary behavior research, we know a thing or two about the importance of movement. It’s why we’re so passionate about activating workplaces with WorkFit™ sit-stand desks and schools with LearnFit® mobile workstations.
We’re not alone. Ask most teachers or principals about the importance of physical activity, and they will readily share its virtues. Teachers know that active students are more engaged and perform better. Principals know that active students have less disciplinary issues. Yet sedentary time in the classroom continues to be the norm, especially for students in middle and high school who no longer have recess and have less physical education requirements.
Since there’s no clear-cut standard to measure if schools are integrating sufficient amounts of physical activity into the school day, how do you measure an active school? To make the question even more challenging, how do you measure an active classroom? It turns out that there’s no single definition for what constitutes an active school day, and that makes it difficult for principals, teachers, parents and other stakeholders to know whether their schools are measuring up.
What is an active school? I’d like to propose that it’s a school day that prioritizes and encourages a variety of opportunities to be physically active, such as:
- Before- and after-school open gym
- Recess or physical education with a variety of sports and play activities that elevate heart rates
- Hands-on learning in the classroom and beyond the classroom walls
- Individualized learning that caters to the abilities and needs of each student
- Structured or guided physical activity, like kinesthetic brain breaks or walking lessons
- Unstructured or free form physical activity, like fidgeting, standing and stretching to give kids the autonomy and authority to choose how they learn
Integrating physical activity throughout the school day, both in the form of exercise and non-exercise, is an essential building block to academic performance and lifelong health. If the motto “you get what you measure” is true, it’s time to create an active school standard. We certainly have some ideas at Ergotron; what about you?