Regular physical activity is one of the most important ways to ensure good health. With students and school staff spending most of their days at school, it’s vital that schools support physical activity wherever possible.
The World Health Organization recommends that adults aged 18 – 64 get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children and adolescents ages 6 – 17 engage in 60 minutes or more of physical activity every single day.
Physical education programs in schools are also an important medium for supporting physical activity and health. They provide cognitive content and instruction designed to develop motor skills, knowledge, and behaviors for physical activity and physical fitness.
Benefits of Physical Activity
Research shows that regular physical activity is good for your health and leads to these benefits:
- Improving strength and endurance
- Improved circulatory system
- Healthier bones and muscles
- Reduced risk of developing obesity and related chronic diseases
- Reduced stress and greater mental health
- Improved concentration and attentiveness
- Better sleep
- Better academic performance
By finding creative ways to integrate physical activity into the school day, exercise can become part of the daily routine for everyone in the school community.
National Healthy Schools Collaborative Back-to-School Guide
The National Healthy Schools Collaborative (NHSC) is a collective impact group of organizations working in health and education brought together by Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools. Part of the mission is to coordinate practices for health in education so every school succeeds, every educator excels, and every child thrives. The collaborative developed a comprehensive list of resources designed to help provide parents, educators, school staff, pediatricians, administrators and/or more with helpful information as the 2023-2024 school year begins. The following resources are available at no cost and can be shared widely.
Planning for the Next Normal at School Playbook: Family Well-Being
A conversation with expert Sean Wade, director of family-school partnerships at Action for Healthy Kids, about the Family Well-Being chapter of the Planning for the Next Normal at School Playbook. Sean walks us through the five starter plays and supporting resources. This content was updated in July 2021.
Students and Staff Partner for Healthy Hydration
El Cerrito High School is committed to engaging stakeholders at all levels in designing and implementing wellness initiatives for students and staff. When student leaders raised concerns about access to clean, fresh drinking water, the school health center staff and student leaders partnered to get new water stations installed at their school.
Scaling the Heights of Health: Climbing Wall Enriches Physical Activity Opportunities
E.W. Oliver Elementary School in Riverdale, GA takes seriously the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations that children get 60 minutes of physical activity each day. To engage the students in fresh ways, the school expanded their PE programming to include a rock climbing wall. The climbing wall has been used into a number of classroom lessons to help illustrate concepts ranging from math to social studies in addition to physical education.
Planning for the Next Normal at School Playbook: Physical Education and Physical Activity
A conversation with expert Carly Wright, vice president of advocacy and equity, diversity, and inclusion at SHAPE America, about the Physical Activity, Physical Education, and Health Education chapter of the Planning for the Next Normal at School Playbook. Carly walks us through the five starter plays and supporting resources. This content was updated in July 2021.
Making Healthy, Clean Drinking Water the Norm
Martin Luther King Jr. High School in Pittsburg, CA wanted to encourage their students to drink more water instead of unhealthy sugar-sweetened beverages. Yet, teachers realized that traditional water fountains offered only part of the answer. They also wanted to align water access with the school’s commitment to the environment. Their solution? Installing water bottle refilling stations.
Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs
Developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP) offers resources to help schools and school districts provide an abundance of opportunities for physical activity before, during, and after school.
SHAPE America — the Society of Health and Physical Educators — serves as the voice for 200,000+ health and physical education professionals across the U.S. seeking to advance professional practice and promote research related to health and physical education, physical activity, dance and sport. Their website includes a library of resources, no-cost programs and more.
Playworks is dedicated to using the power of play to help young people build critical social and emotional skills, find confidence in themselves, and learn positive cultural values, all while being active and having fun. Their website includes no-cost resources to evaluate and improve recess and games to build social-emotional skills in the classroom.