Wednesday, September 05, 2007

B.C. kids will be required to exercise

VANCOUVER -- School children in B.C. will be required to do 30 minutes of exercise a day starting next September, Education Minister Shirley Bond announced yesterday.

"This is not about mandatory P.E., this is about daily physical activity," said Bond after making the first-day-of-school announcement in Vancouver.

Students will be able to sweat out their mandatory minutes either during or outside of school hours, said Bond, so walking to school, extracurricular sports and classroom calisthenics will all be on the list of acceptable activities.

"This is not adding to a student's curricular course load, but in fact (high school students) already are required to do 80 minutes of physical activity (per week) to graduate. We are going to increase that to 150 (minutes for all students)."

Bond said her ministry will take the next year to write the fine print of the policy, so she doesn't know yet how students' activity levels will be recorded or monitored. But come next fall, she said, schools will have to offer at least 30 minutes of physical activity programs each day, whether during class or recess.

Bond also announced the provincial government is about to fast-track its two-year-old promise to remove junk food from schools by 2009. The ban on unhealthy snacks will be implemented in elementary schools this January and in middle and secondary schools by September 2008.

Statistics Canada says one in four B.C. children and youth is obese or overweight.

Health Canada recommends children and youth do at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical exercise per day, which could be anything from brisk walking, skating, and bike riding to running, weight training, and team sports.



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