School is a central focus of daily life for most children and adolescents in the United States. Approximately 12 million individuals are enrolled in early childhood (preschool) programs, 50 million in K-12 programs, and 20 million in post-secondary institutions. Because they have the opportunity to directly affect approximately 25% of the U.S. population, education settings can play a huge role in public health initiatives related to physical activity. School-based personnel, such as teachers, administrators, and other staff, as well as education decision makers and policy leaders can significantly affect the development and delivery of physical education and physical activity programs, ensuring that they provide all the essential components of a comprehensive and high-quality program.1
Numerous reports and recommendations from professional and scientific organizations identify the important influence that education settings can have on public health.1-10 They also describe the goals and procedures for developing, implementing, and evaluating programs intended to help students adopt and maintain physically active lifestyles. Some important initiatives and resources for those in education settings desiring to enhance physical education and physical activity experiences include:
- Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP)2
- Educating the Study Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School3
- Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Midcourse Report: Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Youth4
The Education Sector of the National Physical Activity Plan developed strategies aimed at: 1) adopting policies that support implementation of the Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program model, 2) providing high-quality physical education programs, 3) encouraging afterschool, holiday, and vacation programs for children and youth to adopt policies and practices that ensure participants are physically active, 4) adopting physical activity standards for childcare and early childhood education programs, 5) promoting opportunities and incentives for college and university students to adopt and maintain physically active lifestyles, 6) providing pre-service professional training and in-service professional development programs, and 7) developing and advocating for policies that promote physical activity among all students.
Successful implementation of the recommendations in the Education Sector has the potential to support high-quality program delivery from early childhood through post-secondary education. It also has the potential for broad, lifelong impact, not only on students, but also on the teachers, administrators, policymakers, health professionals, and parents who serve and care for them.
States and school districts should adopt policies that support implementation of the Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program model. (ED-1) [View Tactics]
Schools should provide high-quality physical education programs. (ED-2) [View Tactics]
Providers of afterschool, holiday, and vacation programs for children and youth should adopt policies and practices that ensure that participants are appropriately physically active. (ED-3) [View Tactics]
States should adopt standards for childcare and early childhood education programs to ensure that children ages zero to five years are appropriately physically active. (ED-4) [View Tactics]
Colleges and universities should provide students and employees with opportunities and incentives to adopt and maintain physically active lifestyles. (ED-5) [View Tactics]
Educational institutions should provide pre-service professional training and in-service professional development programs that prepare educators to deliver effective physical activity programs for students of all types. (ED-6) [View Tactics]
Professional and scientific organizations should develop and advocate for policies that promote physical activity among all students. (ED-7) [View Tactics]