A supervised exercise program that gets young children running and playing for an hour before the school could make them happier and healthier, while also jibing with the needs and schedules of parents and school officials, according to a new study involving two dozen elementary and middle schools.
Physical activity among children in most of the developed world has been on a steep decline for decades. National exercise guidelines in the United States recommend that children and adolescents engage in at least an hour of exercise every day. But by most estimates, barely 20 percent of young people are that active, and many scarcely exercise at all. Meanwhile, rates of obesity among children as young as 2 hover at around 17 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Today, the program has gained a formal curriculum, a name and acronym, Build Our Kids’ Success (BOKS), along with corporate underwriting from the shoe manufacturer Reebok. (The similarity of the nomenclature is intentional.) It also has become one of the world’s most widely disseminated, free, school-based exercise programs. According to a BOKS spokeswoman, it is used at more than 3,000 schools worldwide.
But popularity is no guarantee of efficacy. So researchers at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, some of whom have children enrolled in a BOKS program, began to wonder about the measurable impacts of the exercise.
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