Iowa State Researchers Studying Kids’ Physical Activity

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Recent studies prove that physical activity is linked to better performance in the classroom and higher test scores.  That’s why Iowa State University researchers are studying how active elementary students are.

Fifth graders at Garton Elementary in Des Moines begin their PE class at their desks.  They`re filling out a survey about how much they move. It’s called the “Youth Activity Profile” and it was designed by ISU kinesiology professor Dr. Greg Welk. It assesses physical activity rather than fitness.  “Historically, schools have assessed fitness, which is a great thing to do but it`s also important to teach them about their physical activity habits,” says Welk.

Fitness can be influenced by things like genetics and is often measured by a person`s athleticism. The goal of this program is to simply track how much these kids are moving - at home and at school.  That`s why the data collected at school will be passed on to parents, in the form of a 'fitnessgram ‘ so they can see if their child is or isn`t getting 60-minutes a day, which is the goal for children.

PE teacher, Tena Baumgartner says the program gives kids ownership of their physical activity.  “With the survey they`re finding out what sedentary really means, why we shouldn`t go home and sit on the couch.” Symon Yates already knows why, “I`m going to be stronger, and faster!”  But that`s not the only reason he and classmate, Saybah Tennih like it. “I think it`s fun,” she says, “we get to do a lot of fun stuff like playing with the group.

And if the activity is fun, kids and adults are more likely to move. “They’re more likely to go home and do it,” says Baumgartner, “They show their siblings, and mom and dad... look what I can do and this is why I`m doing it.  You kind of spread that knowledge around.”