Kids should get hour of gym daily at school, report says

WASHINGTON — Reading, writing, arithmetic — and PE?

The prestigious Institute of Medicine is recommending that schools provide opportunities for at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day for students and that physical education become a core subject.

The report, released Thursday, says only about half of the nation’s youngsters are getting at least an hour of vigorous or moderate-intensity physical ­activity every day.


Another concern, the report says, is that 44 percent of school administrators report slashing time from physical education, arts, and recess since the passage of the No Child Left Behind law in 2001 to boost time for reading and math.

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With childhood obesity on the rise — about 17 percent of children ages 2 through 19 are obese — and kids spending much of the day inclass, the chairman of the committee that wrote the report said schools are the best place to help shape up the nation’s children.

‘‘Schools for years have been responsible for various health programs such as nutrition, breakfast and lunch, immunizations, screenings,’’ said Harold W. Kohl III, a professor of at the University of Texas School of Public Health.

‘‘Physical activity should be placed alongside those programs to make it a priority for us as a society,’’ he said.

The report calls on the Education Department to recommend that PE be adopted as a core subject.


About 75 percent of states mandate PE, the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance said. But most do not require a specific amount of time for PE.