School official agrees with study that links physical activity and academic performance

In school districts across the country, budget cuts have led to the elimination of physical education classes. A new study shows less play time is having a negative effect on students' academic performance because physical activity is just as important as what they learn inside the classroom.

An informal survey at Black Water Middle shows a group of sixth graders enjoy recess and their P.E. classes. Lauren Hargat, 12, and many of her classmates look forward to the free time and its benefits.

"I like recess 'cause it gives you a chance to talk with your friends, be energetic and just get all of your energy out so when you go into class you're not blabbing your mouth off you know walking all over the room," explains Hargat.

Black Water Middle School Prinicipal Dr. Cindy Thibodeau agrees. She says it's difficult for students to sit in a classroom all day long. "The better health that we're in the better we're going to do academically. When your in good physical health when those endorphins are going and you feel good about yourself you have a level of confidence."

In Horry County, middle school students go to P.E. for 18 weeks, that's half the school year. In that time they participate in a variety of activities.

They go to recess every day all year long. A recent study shows exercise is linked to better grades and better scores on standardized tests.

"We have an obligation to our children to be positive role models to give them every chance that they can to be active physically," says Thibodeau. "Children need fresh air, they need sunlight, they need to move."

Thibodeau also encourages her teachers to use physical activity as a reward, "Rather than give them something to eat, a snack or cookie or whatever because we have our nutritional guidelines or course. Go for a walk and I'll tell you what the children want at Black Water. They want extra recess time."

Experts say another added benefit to recess and gym is the building of social skills.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, students should have about one hour of physical activity a day to remain healthy.