A school day lasting nearly seven hours means that children are expected to remain seated and attentive for lengthy durations. Only 25 percent of children in the United States meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity, which helps kids become more focused. To help close this gap, national nonprofit Wellness in the Schools developed WITS FIT BITS, 10-minute activity breaks during classroom time. WITS Coaches train teachers to conduct these activities in a manner that will not only get kids active but also improve their energy levels and concentration.

The goal

With numerous studies showing that physical activity benefits not only the body but also focus, retention and anxiety, the ultimate goal of this program is to teach children healthy habits to live and learn better. “When kids feel the benefits of movement, it’s as if a light goes on,” Senior Program Director Wendy Siskin says. “As a result, the students are able to release energies and return to their lessons with renewed attention and focus.”

Activities similar to those incorporated in WITS FIT BITS have the potential to influence children’s lives outside of the classroom as well. Siskin suggests different kinds of activities for different ages, and encourages parents to use these tools at home. For younger children, Siskin emphasizes the importance of imagination.

The ultimate goal of this program is to teach children healthy habits to live and learn better.

“When children use their imagination, they feel free to be silly and they are less likely to identify with any insecurities because they are usually imitating something or someone else,” says Siskin. “For the older grades, we add more challenging movements to work on strength, endurance, flexibility and meditation.”

Not just kids

Of course, really capturing kids’ attention requires more than just a planned activity. Parents should try to understand the benefits of physical exercise by engaging in it themselves. “It’s hard to effectively teach a habit that you are not attached to yourself,” Siskin says.

“Create a consistent fitness activity or tradition with your family. In our society, many learn health lessons the hard way. Sometimes it takes a doctor’s prognosis to change our habits before it’s too late. Parents can act as role models to help prevent this pathway for the next generation.”