Physical Activity for Students in School
Students spend a majority of their day at school, which allows educators a unique opportunity to improve student health by helping them reach the nationally recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Physical education and activity are key components of the CDC’s Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model because they help students establish and maintain healthy lifestyles through adulthood. Well-Ahead recommends school districts and schools work together to help students stay physically active now and throughout their lives.
Whether in the classroom, at recess or during Out-of-School Time programs, students should be encouraged to participate in physical activity. School staff can be positive role models for students by being physically active with students and participate in school activities that support physical activity.
Integrate Physical Activity in the Classroom
Educators can incorporate exercise into classroom time by offering breaks for physical play and integrating movement into instruction. Not only will this make learning more fun and interactive, it will improve students’ overall well-being and outlook on living a healthy lifestyle. Classroom physical activity should always be offered in addition to recess and physical education and woven throughout the school day.
Physical Activity Before and After School
Out-of-School Time programs, which include morning assemblies as well as before-school and after-school offerings, should always incorporate physical activity. Some ideas include walking or biking, interscholastic sports teams and intramural programs.
Encourage Physical Activity During Recess
Recess is a scheduled time during which students are supervised while engaging with their peers in play and activities of their choosing. During recess, students at all grade levels should be encouraged to be physically active. Recess that is spent being active can benefit students by improving learning, social and emotional development, and by reducing disruptive in-class behavior.
Spotlight: Raintree Preparatory Academy
Raintree Preparatory Academy is an excellent example of incorporating physical activity into the school which increased test scores, improved grades, increased school attendance and improved classroom behavior.
Physical education provides cognitive content and instruction designed to develop motor skills, knowledge and behaviors for physical activity and physical fitness. Schools should continually work to improve these course offerings and physical activities. The Louisiana Department of Education’s Division of Healthy Communities oversees implementation of physical education standards for schools. In addition, LDOE provides the state standards for physical education and health for download.
Healthy Schools Mini-Grant
In addition to promoting lifelong health and well-being, regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence also creates better learners. Research shows it improves students’ attention, mood, memory, grades, classroom behavior, and ability to stay on task.1
Well-Ahead created the Healthy Schools Mini-Grant to help schools encourage their students to get the recommended 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity. The Healthy Schools Mini-Grant opportunity provides up to $3,000 to schools to increase physical activity for students. This grant opportunity is available to elementary, middle, and high schools.
Visit the Healthy Schools Mini-Grant webpage for more information.