The new 3 R's : Reading, Writing and Running

Last October, Education Minister Gerard Kennedy, of Ontario Canada, announced a mandatory 20-minute minimum of physical activity in schools each day. In addition, schools were invited to take the healthy school challenge by starting a new healthy activity. More than 1,200 schools in Ontario have accepted the challenge. In addition to in-class activities and gym class three times a week, the whole school goes for a 20-minute morning walk in the fall and spring.

* Between 1981 and 1996, the number of obese children in Canada between seven and 13 tripled,according to the Ontario government.

The reasons cited for the mandatory daily physical activity requirement were:

* Ninety-one per cent of chidren and youth do not meet the guidelines set by Canada's Physical Activity Guide for Children and Youth, according to the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institutes and fewer than one-third of paretns are aware of the recommended guidelines.

* A study from the Canadian Journal of Public Health says academic performance is maintained or even enhanced by an increase in a student's level of physical activity.

More on the Canadian physical activity mandate.

For more information on what school interventions and policies on nutrition and physical activity visit Peaceful Playgrounds and download such topics as: Nutrition and Schools -April 2004, Stopping Childhood Obesity- April 2004 and An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure-Feb. 2005.