A Scotland school that has students run a “daily mile” is seeing incredible results
It’s no secret that kids are less active now than ever. Our children get less physical education, less recess and more screen time than we did — and it’s showing. That’s why we need to consider new ways to make them more active and the way a school in Scotland accomplished that is pretty simple. They have the entire school, kids ages 4-11, run a mile every day. It might sound kind of miserable, but wait until you hear the benefits.
St. Ninians primary school in Stirling, Scotland is doing something revolutionary in a time where kids spend hours every day glued to a desk. According to The Guardian, the school has been participating in a “daily mile” program for the last three and a half year. To amazing results.
You see, not a single child at St. Ninians is overweight, despite an overall rise in childhood obesity throughout the rest of the UK. Headteacher Elaine Wyllie says, “It’s a commonsense approach to children’s fitness, which is free and easy. The most important thing is that the children really enjoy it, otherwise you couldn’t sustain it. They come back in bright-eyed and rosy-cheeked, how children used to look. It’s joyous to see.”
The school had a circuit built around the playing field and the mile run is fit in each day as their schedule permits. They do it unless there’s heavy rain or sleet, and the best part? Other schools are taking note of the benefits and a study is about to begin that will gauge exactly how much it’s helping with the aim of implementing the program at other UK schools.
Dr. Colin Moran, of Stirling University, is leading the study that will look for scientific facts to back up what any casual observer at the school can already see. He says, “The children at St. Ninians don’t seem to have problems with obesity; they seem happier and staff say they settle into lessons faster, so we designed a study that would test all of these things. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence about the benefits but there aren’t any scientific facts yet.”
It doesn’t take a scientist to understand how beneficial this program must be to the kids — and how great it could be for every school. Aside from children with medical issues that would prevent them from running a mile, it’s hard to come up with reasons why schools in the United States shouldn’t try something similar.
The fact is, kids now are less active and less fit overall than we were as kids. For a country that talks about fitness and nutrition and activity so frequently, we sure do sell our kids short. Not every state even requires physical education classes, let alone enough hours of physical education classes each week to get kids the cardio activity they need to be at a minimum level of health and fitness.
When kids blow off steam, they’re happier. They listen better. They focus better. As parents, we don’t need science to tell us that when we can see how relaxed our kids are after an hour of running around outside. The benefits are clear as day. And at my kids’ school, with physical education class happening only once a week along with 20 measly minutes of daily recess, they’re not getting enough exercise.
I would be absolutely thrilled if my kids ran a mile at school every day. So would they, frankly. No child wants to be planted at a desk all day long with hardly any breaks. This program could pay off in dividends as far as better grades and behavior among the students. And it only takes 15 minutes each day. Why aren’t we already doing this, again?
If schools are going to take away physical education or cut down on recess, they have to make up the difference somehow. A mile run each day would cost them virtually nothing, but the benefits would be incredible. Hopefully, the upcoming study in Scotland causes the idea to spread. It’s hard to argue with how much it could help all kids be healthier and happier.