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Main school break ‘should be at least one hour’

Could more playtime help keep obesity figures in check?

Will extended break times help children stay fit? Photo: Shutterstock

Will extended break times help children stay fit? Photo: Shutterstock

The main break at school should not be shorter than “one full hours”, consultant urologist Karl German recommends in a Talking Point published today.

“If the obesity issue is to be tackled seriously, then there needs to be a concerted effort to increase the time available in the main break to at least one full hour. This might simply mean starting school 10 minutes earlier and finishing 10 minutes later. This will practically double the available time for physical exercise and without disrupting the daily timetable too much,” Mr German writes (see back page).

TALKING POINT: Not enough exercise in schools

He argues that although there are formal physical education lessons, it is still a fact that, in general, not enough time or importance is being given to daily exercise at school “where calories can be consumed”.

I think it is time to consider having a Student Charter

In his opinion a break of 40 minutes or shorter is inadequate to play a game of football or basketball because the real playing time would be about 30 minutes.

“I think it is time to consider having a Student Charter that ensures that every child has enough time to exercise,” Mr German says.

The World Health Organisation recommends that, to improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone health and cardiovascular and metabolic health biomarkers, children and youth aged 5–17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity daily.

A programme to encourage young students to be physically active had been launched in Maltese State schools in late 2015.

Malta ranks first in terms of overweight and obese children according to the latest EU Health and Behaviour in School Children Report. In a bid to find a solution to the problem, earlier this year, the Clinical Biomechanics Research Group at the University of Malta started working on a study aimed at increasing the amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in school during curricular physical education (PE) lessons via a structured physical activity programme.

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