Creating an Active Classroom
While it may be difficult to find things for parents, doctors, politicians, and teachers to all agree on at once, the health of our children is of the highest priority to everyone. For decades, childhood obesity has been a hot-button issue for policymakers and school boards alike, who recognize that we are in the middle of a nationwide epidemic that is affecting not only the quality of life of our kids in their youth but is setting the tone for decades to come.
The truth is that tackling a problem on this scale will take everyone making improvements wherever they have influence. Below are a few doable steps that can be accomplished by everyone, from dietary changes to investing in office fitness equipment. The time has come to smash the obesity numbers completely.
Healthier Schools, Healthier Children
So much of obesity is a result of our habits and when looking at the habits of our children, we need to determine where it is they spend the most time. For the majority of kids, that is either at home or in the classroom.
Schools, for their part, have tried to create an environment where kids can be their healthiest selves, especially by providing walking desks and good, nutritious lunch options. But what about in the classrooms themselves? As it turns out, there are a few ways teachers can promote a healthy lifestyle in their students while learning is going on.
Start By Warming Up
We wouldn’t want to do an intense workout on ice-cold muscles and neither do the kids want to sit down and prepare to learn without a little bit of a warmup. A lot can be said for the songs and exercises designed to help them “get the wiggles out,” and you can employ those same tactics in the classroom. This is especially true for kids who are learning remotely.
- Try holding a race to the chalkboard between two teams, where the two kids at the head of the line need to run to the board and spell a word correctly or complete a math problem.
- Lead the children in some light calisthenics beside their desks. Make sure that each part of them gets to stretch and move, including overlooked areas like ankles and wrists.
- Take the kids outside for a quick race around the perimeter of the grounds. You can have incentives for having them complete it before a certain time so as not to waste any learning.
Invest in a Treadmill Desk
This is helpful for both kids and adults in any setting. A treadmill desk allows some light walking to occur while the kids are meant to be studying, reading, or typing. These desks have been the subject of much study and scrutiny since their invention and a few benefits have come to light for those who use them:
- Improved memory and cognitive skills. The simple act of light movement keeps the brain engaged but doesn’t distract from the task at hand, while walking makes it impossible for kids to fall asleep in class.
- Lower risk of neck and back pain. Because children are standing upright, they don’t have to lean over their books or crick their necks. This has the added benefit of helping to eliminate early-onset scoliosis.
- Lower risk of premature death. In the end, healthier people live longer. Kids who grow up without the problem of obesity have fewer cardiovascular and pulmonary problems that could make life difficult (or shorter) in the future.
Consider Outdoor Learning
Naturally, some topics are more conducive to studying indoors — subjects like math and computers, that would require use of the blackboard. But some topics can be tackled outside if the main lesson plan is a lecture. The increased Vitamin D will be good for the kids and it is always easy to turn a slow day into an active one when you’re outside.
- Have the kids bring their English books outside and engage in a discussion about themes, characters, and the author while out in nature. You can even explain to them that most people in history read books either outside or by the natural light of the sun, which is what you’re going to do today.
- Learning science outside of the classroom can be fun, as there are numerous visual aids around to add context to what you’re talking about. Photosynthesis, the water cycle, plate tectonics, even discussions of the musculoskeletal system and cells can all be covered outside.
- Outside time is also an effective incentive for good grades and good behavior. By having kids get used to moving — either with their treadmill desk or outside — during school, they will begin to create a more active lifestyle for themselves.
Childhood obesity is something we can beat if we all work together. To that end, LifeSpan Fitness is perfecting the design and technology behind the various classroom and office fitness equipment it provides. Click here to learn more about who we are.