Physical Activity: Active School Day
Story: Active Recess in Minneapolis Schools
Active Recess means more play and more fun for 5,600 students at 11 Minneapolis schools. Teachers at participating elementary schools are seeing the difference that active play can have on in-classroom behavior and conflict resolution skills. The goal of the Active Recess approach is to increase physical activity, improve students’ health, to support academic success, and to improve the playground climate by engaging all students in physical activity with various game and activity options...read more
About active school days
Physical activity during the school day not only helps build strong, healthy bodies, but it also helps create a lifetime of good habits. Plus, regular activity has been shown that it improves academic performance, attentiveness and concentration in the classroom.
Active classrooms provide an opportunity for movement and helps get the blood flowing to young muscles and young brains. For example, replacing classroom chairs with stability balls or standing desks can help students concentrate, improve behavior and burn off excess energy. Regular physical activity breaks can enhance the school environment, help establish social norms for active lifestyles, and improve student concentration skills and classroom behavior.
Several strategies have been designed for promoting physical activity with youth at schools. One example is “BAM! Body and Mind,” a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention campaign designed for youth ages 9-13 which provides classroom information on the importance of physical fitness. Another example is SMART (Student Media Awareness to Reduce Television), a classroom curriculum for elementary students, which has proven successful in reducing weight gain.
Physical education classes
Physical education classes provide students with opportunities to be physically active, improve physical fitness and learn about fun ways to be physically active throughout life. The national recommendation for the amount of time to be dedicated to physical education classes is 150 minutes per week in elementary schools and 225 minutes per week in middle and high schools.
Recess provides opportunities for youth to be physical activity during the school day and, weather depending, get some much needed fresh air. Recess can also provide the opportunity for children to enhance cooperation and negotiation skills. National organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called for regular recess periods in elementary schools.
Before and after school programs
School activities that take place outside of school hours can also help contribute to total daily physical activity for youth. Before and after school programs to promote physical activity include competitive sports teams, clubs, classes or training, recreational and intramural sports, or nonathletic activities that involve physical activities (e.g. outdoor education, community service programs). In Minnesota, 95 percent of elementary schools work with community organizations such as the YMCA, parks and recreation departments, and Boys and Girls Clubs to provide before and after school activities. When school is not in session, schools often allow the use of their facilities, indoor and outdoor, for programs.
Helping kids to be more active in school
The Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP). With SHIP, schools are working to increase physical activity within the instructional setting, building a foundation for lifelong physical activity. Active classroom breaks, physical education and recess all mean kids not only are healthier, but also learn better. Find out more about SHIP