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Activity that runs and runs

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We started our jogging initiative in 2001 with Year 6 children and have since extended it to Year 5 because it was so popular. We have noticed that children's concentration is better after exercise and various studies have indicated that if children raise their heartbeat safely for 20 minutes a day fitness increases.

Pupils jog for about eight minutes round the grounds three times a week.

(We try to vary the course.) They have short warm-ups first and a cool-down at the end. Altogether it takes 20 minutes.

By Christmas of the first year we were seeing results. Children were fitter, more alert and in some cases had lost weight and improved their behaviour. Most surprisingly, we have noticed an improvement in self-esteem, even among children who are not particularly good runners.

Very few children - about one a year - are reluctant to take part.

Children don't compete with each other, only with themselves, trying to beat their own records. As they know when the jogging sessions are, they usually come suitably dressed on those days. (We don't have a uniform.) Year 4s are now saying they also want to jog.

Harrie Atkinson, headteacher, Bevois Town Primary School, Southampton

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