"Kids spend a lot of time in the schools for a lot of years, and in order for them to be as physically active as they need in order to be healthy, schools are going to have to take the initiative," said Russell Pate, chairman of the group that framed nine practical steps to see that kids exercise more.
The AHA said such steps were needed since around 16 percent of American children and adolescents were considered obese. Among the recommendations are programs that make it compulsory for students to exercise a daily minimum of 30 minutes in schools.
Other recommendations include:
* Discourage sedentary behavior in kids
* Establish optional activity programs outside of normal school hours.
* Child development centers and elementary schools set aside 30 minutes of recess devoted entirely to exercise
* Ensure that physical education (PE) programs in schools are imparted by qualified teachers
"We think the schools can deliver both excellent academic programs and the physical activity students need during the school day," Pate concluded.