The U.S. National Physical Activity Plan: Education Sector

In 2008, U.S. schools educated nearly 50 million children, from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. These children spent an average of 1,300 hours per year in school. Schools have a long history of addressing the health of children and adolescents, and physical activity – obtained through recess, physical education classes, and after-school programs – has traditionally been an integral component of this focus.

Today, however, schools are under intense pressure to improve academic standards. These pressures, combined with the trend toward children being driven to school and other factors, have reduced the amount of time children and adolescents are physically active during the school day.

Recent research indicates that physical activity actually has a positive impact on academic performance. These findings provide a critical impetus for teachers, coaches, school administrators, and school district officials to take a leadership role in carrying out the following strategies.

Provide access to and opportunities for high-quality, comprehensive physical activity programs, anchored by physical education, in Pre-kindergarten through grade 12 educational settings. Ensure that the programs are physically active, inclusive, safe, and developmentally and culturally appropriate.

Develop and implement state and school district policies requiring school accountability for the quality and quantity of physical education and physical activity programs.

Develop partnerships with other sectors for the purpose of linking youth with physical activity opportunities in schools and communities.

Ensure that early childhood education settings for children ages 0 to 5 years promote and facilitate physical activity.

Provide access to and opportunities for physical activity before and after school.

Encourage post-secondary institutions to provide access to physical activity opportunities, including physical activity courses, robust club and intramural programs, and adequate physical activity and recreation facilities.

Encourage post-secondary institutions to incorporate population-focused physical activity promotion training in a range of disciplinary degree and certificate programs.

Oliver Bartzsch is an experienced medical professional with over 15 years of professional experience. With a passion for medicine, fitness, and personal growth, he is always willing to challenge himself to accomplish tasks and especially to provide accurate medical information to people. Oliver is a long-time medical editor for multiple sites. With more than 10 years of medical writing experience, he has completed over 350 projects with both individual and corporate clients.


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