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Integrate Classroom Physical Activity in Schools

Brittany H. Chen, Shannon Michael, Bridget Borgogna, Kate Holmes, Kelly Hughes, Lina Jew, & Mary Juergens

joperd cover october 2019

Physical Activity for Children and Youth reported that only 24% of U.S. children and youth ages 6 to 17 meet the national recommendation of 60 minutes of daily physical activity, grading the nation at a D– (National Physical Activity Alliance, 2018; The Child & Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative, 2016). Schools can help students meet this national recommendation, as close to 60 million children and adolescents attend school (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018). Schools are able to help students get up to 20 to 60 minutes of physical activity during the school day (Weaver et al., 2016; Yli-Piipari et al., 2016), and with students spending approximately 5 to 6 hours per day in the classroom, classroom physical activity is an important opportunity to increase physical activity (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2011; Rasberry et al., 2011).

Classroom physical activity is defined as any physical activity done in the classroom (CDC, 2018). Classroom physical activity can take place at any time, can occur in one or several brief periods of time during the school day, and can be offered across all school levels (elementary, middle and high school; CDC, 2018). As an important part of a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP), classroom physical activity provides students with physical activity during the school day, in addition to recess and physical education.

The purpose of this article is to explain the health and academic benefits of classroom physical activity, describe strategies and resources to help schools integrate classroom physical activity throughout the school day, and highlight the possible role of physical educators in supporting the implementation of classroom physical activity strategies. Throughout there will be quotations with practical ideas and shared learning from state and local practitioners across the country who support and implement classroom physical activity.

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