Recess Games Make the Grade

Contributed by JC Boushh

The decline in physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle has led to a rise in childhood obesity. Free-play and recess it turns out may play a critical role in reversing the obesity trend in children. Researchers from Children's Hospital Boston and the University of Massachusetts have been studying and monitoring the physical activity levels of children during recess and discovered that different recess games produce different levels of physical activity.

It seems that many of the games we played as children actually were quite healthy for us and helped produce high levels of energy expenditure. Scientists observed that tag games cause children to continuous short burst of energy levels which then caused higher levels of energy expenditure. The same results when we as adults run intervals to burn calories and lose weight. Scientists were able to monitor and document the energy levels of different games and rate them according to levels of energy expenditure.

This new research may strengthen the case for recess and help administrators and school officials see the importance of recess and free-play. Many school districts have either eliminated or shortened recess for children in an effort to boost academic performance which may lead to smart obese children. Recess plays a crucial role in academic performance and physical activity levels in children. Schools also need to realize the importance of some of the childhood games that we played as children; tag, dodge ball, and just plain running around chasing each other.

It turns out that I guess we did know what we were doing as kids, and maybe we should give our children those same opportunities that we had to be physically active. So go outside and play as my mother use to say.