We all know the benefits of exercise and the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. Yet childhood obesity is rising and, in the UK, a stunning three quarters of children spend less time outside than prison inmates!
Wellbeing, mental health and obesity are complex, multi-factoral issues, so there can never be a single solution. However, one innovation is making strides as a partial health and wellbeing solution by providing a simple, effective strategy to get more children moving.
The Daily Mile initiative invites children and staff to go running outside for fifteen minutes every day to experience the physical, emotional and social benefits that exercise brings. It’s a non-competitive, inclusive and joyous expression of what children love to do - move!
This simple yet effective model means that any school can incorporate a burst of exercise into their day - plus, it's free and requires no additional resources, only a safe outdoor space.
Elaine Wyllie, founder of The Daily Mile, sums up the benefits perfectly, saying “We take 15 minutes from the curriculum but we give more back in attainment, focus, happiness, health.”
There's figures to back this up, too. Research conducted by the Universities of Stirling and Edinburgh found that 15 minutes of self-paced exercise can significantly improve a child’s mood, attention and memory, enhancing their ability to learn when they return to the classroom. In a pilot scheme of The Daily Mile conducted at Coppermill School, London, children’s average fitness percentile result soared from 37% to 64% in just 12 weeks. An increase in self esteem and wellbeing was noted, as well as better than expected academic attainment in standardised end of primary school tests.
While statistics point to the various benefits, an abundance of case studies show that staff really feel the difference The Daily Mile brings. St. Polycarp’s Catholic Primary School in Surrey, England, has been involved in The Daily Mile since 2015. Mrs Karen Trafford, Deputy Head, explained "We have found that our school is a calmer place. ‘Wriggly’ children and those with identified behaviour needs have really benefited from the exercise and release of tension that comes with running free." And the students notice the difference too, as some children even ask to do an additional Daily Mile when their concentration fades.
What difference could The Daily Mile make in your school? So far more than 3,000 schools around the world are taking part. Find out how to get started here.