5 December 2016

A mile a day helps you work, rest and play!

School daily exercise project improves concentration as well as fitness

Four schools in Brighton and Hove are among the first in the south east to feel the massive benefits of a project that is seeing all children do at least 10 minutes of exercise a day – the equivalent of running a mile or more.

According to teachers and parents alike, the running, skipping and hopping pupils are doing through the ‘Daily Mile’ project are leading to better concentration, improved academic performance and better behaviour – at home as well as at school.

And it’s not just children who are getting involved. At Balfour primary school in Brighton all the staff are doing their 10 minutes as well. And to get the maximum benefit, they do it in lesson time, not during breaks.

Balfour’s PE coordinator, Laura Gibbons (pictured exercising with a group of children), said: “We’ve measured out the mile – it’s 12 laps of the playground or two laps of the playing field. Some of our children have managed to do 16 laps of the playground in their 10 minutes.

“Everyone – teachers as well – does 10 minutes of exercise every day. We don’t stop for bad weather either – if it rains everyone just puts their coats on.

“It’s a fantastic tool for teachers. They can judge when classes are flagging and need to go run around and re-energise. The children come back in calmer and more focused, and they do some really great work. It can be particularly effective in engaging those children who struggle with learning.

“The children absolutely love it, and the parents are also giving us fantastic feedback. They have been telling us their children now want to play outside more after school rather than stay indoors on their screens, and that they are more chilled in the evening, better behaved and even sleep better since we started the Daily Mile.

“Colleagues have told me that doing the exercise together with the children can also have a lovely bonding effect. It leads to a more informal level of chat and contact with pupils, and this can help children open up about stuff in a way they wouldn’t do normally.”

Click here to listen to Laura and three Balfour children talking about the Daily Mile scheme.

Coordinating the Daily Mile scheme across the city is Corinna Colledge-Edwards from Brighton & Hove City Council’s public health team. She said: “Getting children to do more exercise is a top health priority both locally and nationally.

“It’s great to see general fitness levels improving among the children doing the Daily Mile. But even more importantly, it’s great to see the children thinking about and talking about their health and fitness in such a positive way.

“The benefits of regular exercise are immense for people of all ages. We want our children to want to exercise rather than be forced to do it, so that it becomes a life-long habit.”

“Only around 25% of children nationally are currently getting the 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous daily activity recommended by the Chief Medical Officer. Schemes like the Daily Mile can make a real difference.”

The Daily Mile started in Stirling Primary in Scotland and was the brain-child of ex head-teacher Elaine Wylie. It proved to be very successful in improving concentration and behaviour in lessons, as well as improving fitness and helping to tackle obesity.