Children are subject to increasingly sedentary lives, spending vast amounts of time sitting at home, at school and during leisure activities. Inactivity is contributing to a childhood obesity crisis and is linked to a range of mental and physical health problems in childhood and later life. It is recommended that all children do a minimum of 60 minutes moderate to vigorous intensity exercise each day.
The Daily Mile is a children’s health and wellbeing initiative that gets students outside to walk, jog or run for fifteen minutes each day. The simple yet effective model means that any school can incorporate it into their day. It is free and requires no additional resources, meaning that any school with access to outdoor space can participate.
It’s quick and simple; children run around the playground in their school uniforms, requiring no extra time to change kit or set up equipment. Teachers have the freedom to decide a time that suits the class, making it easy to fit into the school day as an early morning refresher or a brain break during the day.
The idea is for children to reap the physical, emotional and social wellbeing benefits of exercising outdoors in a non-competitive, inclusive atmosphere. The Daily Mile is a guide, not a strict mile (1.6km) and children are encouraged to set their own pace. The organisation has found that on average 50% of children aged 8-11 run a full mile, with 40% running further. Children’s fitness levels increase significantly and they learn to enjoy exercise and be more aware of healthy lifestyle choices.
When the Daily Mile becomes part of the culture of the school, it can inspire lessons on nutrition and other health issues. Daily exercise helps children to focus during learning, while running outdoors during all weathers can help children to enjoy the stimulation of the sights and sounds of the natural world. In addition, the inclusive nature of the activity gives an opportunity for children to boost their confidence in their abilities and to practice social and leadership skills by encouraging their friends.