Schools & Educational Settings
Regular physical activity for physical and mental health has never been a more important issue for our children and adolescents. With increasing attention being given to reducing the obesity epidemic, getting our children regularly active is essential in helping them develop into happy, heathy and well-adjusted adults. In addition to their physical health, active children have fewer emotional and behavioral problems, and perform better academically.
It is within the school setting that many positive habits can begin to develop; learning habits, social habits, eating habits, and physical activity habits. Currently, initiatives like Let’s Move and Action for Healthy Kids are working to promote greater levels of physical activity through schools. Yet, physical activity promotion in schools is declining due to a decreased emphasis on physical education and recess time. Therefore, it is necessary that all potential school settings are optimally engaged in active lifestyles for their students.
What is the role of EIM in the school setting?
Most schools have health programs and/or school nurses. In promoting the concept of “a healthy body = a healthy mind”, we call upon school health professionals to promote physical activity as an essential function of their job. As part of their regular work, EIM calls upon school health professionals to include a basic physical activity assessment as a formal part of all medical visits. From there, the results can be used to:
- Augment health reports to parents
- Inform parents of children not meeting physical activity guidelines
- Provide information and education on how regular physical activity is important in maintaining a healthy body weight
- Refer students to existing school (before or after school) and community programs
Similar to schools, worksites have the potential to influence a great number of adults – many of whom spend the majority of their day sitting. In fact, our working environment is becoming increasingly more sedentary. Since 1950, 30% of Americans worked in high-activity occupations. By 2000, only 22% worked in high-activity occupations. Conversely, the percent of people working in low-activity occupations rose from 23 to 41%. Combined with the added life pressures (i.e. financial responsibilities, family issues) working professionals are finding that regular physical activity outside of the workplace is low on their priority list and often head home at the end of a long day instead of the gym.
Decreasing physical activity leads to reduced workforce output (presenteeism), greater absenteeism (due to illness), and lower physical functionality. Worksites are increasingly becoming more aware of these direct and indirect costs of inactivity, and are seeking out innovative strategies such as bike to work programs, worksite wellness initiatives, as well as standing and/or treadmill desk stations.
What is the role of EIM in the work setting?
EIM seeks to support these new and innovative worksite wellness programs and concepts by providing an additional level of infrastructure to promote physical activity to employees. Many large employers have onsite health care professionals to provide yearly physicals and acute health services for their employees. EIM calls upon worksite health care professionals to:
- Assess the physical activity levels of all patients that they see
- Provide information and education on the importance of regular physical activity
- Give a basic exercise prescription (as appropriate)
- Refer employees to existing programs or fitness facilities located at the worksite
- Maintain close communication with onsite exercise professionals about the activity levels of inactive employees