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Report: Outdoor Time Boosts Academic Performance for SD Kids

September 14, 2010

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Back-to-school has traditionally meant less outdoor time for children, and a new report from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) shows that's not in South Dakota kids' best interest when it comes to school performance and behavior.

NWF vice president of education and training Kevin Coyle makes the case for schools to reinstate regular recess periods, as well as add school gardens and outside adventures.

"If the kids get a little more time outdoors, they get some play time, they're going to do a lot better in science, math, reading, and in those statewide tests."

Coyle says a sharper focus on boosting those test scores has led to scaled-back recesses in most schools, which he claims even teachers know is counter-productive.

Thane Munce, associate director for the National Institute for Athletic Health and Performance at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, says kids need more exercise than they are getting.

"It is recommended that kids get a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity a day and if they are not getting that in their school day - which it's pretty likely that they're not - then, yes, it would be recommended that they do some additional activity on their own in the evenings as well as on the weekends."

An NWF survey of educators found 78 percent believe children who spend regular time in unstructured outdoor play are better able to concentrate in the classroom.

The report, "Back to School: Back Outside," is at nwf.org

Dick Layman, Public News Service - SD