© 2006, National Association for Sport and Physical Education, an association of the
American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, www.aahperd.org/naspe
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Recess for Elementary School Students
It is the position of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE)
that all elementary school children should be provided with at least one daily period of
recess of at least 20 minutes in length.
Recess is an essential component of a comprehensive school physical activity program
and of the total education experience for elementary school students.
organizations including the United States Department of Health and Human Services
and the United States Department of Education (USDHHS & USDE, 2000), Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 1997), National Association for the Education of
Young Children (NAEYC, 1998), and American Association for the Child’s Right to Play
(IPA/USA, n.d.) support school recess as an integral component of a child’s physical,
social, and academic development.
Recess provides children with discretionary time to engage in physical activity that helps
them develop healthy bodies and enjoyment of movement. It also allows children the
opportunity to practice life skills such as cooperation, taking turns, following rules,
sharing, communication, negotiation, problem solving, and conflict resolution.
Furthermore, participation in physical activity may improve attention, focus, behavior,
and learning in the classroom (California Department of Education, 2005; Hannaford,
1995; Jarrett, 1998; Jensen, 2000; Shephard, 1997; Symons, Cinelli, James, & Groff,
Currently 16 percent of our nation’s children are overweight—a result of poor nutritional
habits and a lack of physical activity (Hedley, et al., 2004). An increasing number of
children are developing cardiovascular risk factors (e.g., high blood pressure) and type
2 diabetes (Kaufman, 2002). Daily physical activity is an important part of the solution to