The research is accumulating in support of the whole school approach to physical education that is the core of the Fitness for Life Elementary School program.
Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences. After an extensive review of the research, the IOM recommended a whole-school approach for promoting physical activity, which matches the approach taken by the Fitness for Life Elementary School program. To implement the whole school approach the report recommends:
- At least 60 minutes per day of vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity, more than half of which should be accomplished during regular school hours.
- Quality physical education, including a minimum of 150 minutes per week for elementary school students. Fitness for Life Elementary School includes special physical education lesson plans for whole school wellness weeks, consistent with the IOM plan.
- Exercise breaks in the classroom should contribute to recommendation daily physical activity for youth, Fitness for Life Elementary School includes videos and lesson plans for classroom exercise (brain) breaks.
- Additional opportunities for physical activity before and after school hours, including but not limited to active transport, before- and afterschool programming, and intramural and extramural sports, should be made accessible to all students. Fitness for Life Elementary School includes a Wellness Coordinators Guide with planning details for this type of activity.
A research study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine concluded the following:
- Exercise breaks in the classroom should contribute significantly to the activity levels of elementary school youth. The activity breaks provided in Fitness for Life Elementary are an ideal ready-to-use option for increasing appropriate physical activity in youth.
- Quality physical education and active commuting contribute significantly to the activity levels of elementary school youth.
A second research article published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine concluded the following:
- Classroom activity breaks contribute on average 19 minutes of physical activity per day.
- Quality physical education classes contribute on average 23 minutes of activity per day.
- After school activities, enhanced recess, and modified playgrounds contribute on average 21 minutes per day.
- Combined these activities total more than the 60 minutes necessary to meet activity guidelines for youth.
Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. Research findings from an article published in the August 2013 issue include the following:
- The most important factor in the success of a whole school approach is well-designed program materials such as those included in Fitness for Life Elementary School.
- Having support of the school administrator, having a school wellness coordinator, and having a school wellness committee increase the changes of success of the whole school approach
The Let’s Move! Active Schools program, launched by First Lady Michelle Obama, is a comprehensive program that empowers school champions—PE teachers, classroom teachers, principals, administrators, and parents—to create active environments that enable all students to get moving and reach their potential.
A Let’s Move! Active School promotes a whole school approach including opportunities in five key areas:
- Physical education
- Physical activity during school
- Physical activity before and after school
- Family and community involvement
- Staff involvement
Fitness for Life Elementary School provides these opportunities through activities, ready-to-use videos, lesson plans, special events, signs, and much more.
Institute of Medicine. Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School. 2013 May 23.
Murtagh E, Mulvihill M, Markey O. Bizzy Break! The effect of a classroom-based activity break on in-school physical activity levels of primary school children. Pediatr Exerc Sci. 2013 May;25(2):300-7. Epub 2013 Mar 15. PubMed PMID: 23504941.
Charles B. Corbin, Pamela H. Kulinna, Mary Dean, Jennifer Reeves. Wellness Weeks: A Total School Approach for Promoting Physical Activity and Nutrition. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. Vol. 84, Iss. 6, 2013.
Let’s Move! Active Schools.
Bassett, et al. (2013). Estimated Energy Expenditures for School-Based Policies and Active Living. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 44(2), 108-113.