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National Physical Activity Plan may spur curriculum innovation

by Scott Wikgren

The U.S. National Physical Activity Plan ( is the latest organization to call for a national culture that supports physically active lifestyles with an ultimate purpose of improving health, preventing disease and disability, and enhancing quality of life for everyone. In addition, recent research indicates that physical activity has a positive impact on academic performance.

Therefore, one specific strategy they advocate is for schools to provide access to and opportunities for high-quality, comprehensive physical activity programs, anchored by physical education, in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 educational settings and ensure that the programs are physically active, inclusive, safe, and developmentally and culturally appropriate.

The blueprint for developing such a program can be found in Schoolwide Physical Activity by Judith Rink, Tina Hall, and Lori Williams. “The purpose of this book,” write the authors, “is to help professionals at both the elementary school level and the secondary school level design and conduct school physical activity programs. The perspective taken by the book is that school physical activity programs are the responsibility of the school and not just the physical education teacher. Administrators, classroom teachers, and physical education teachers all have a responsibility for the program.”

In their book, Rink, Hall, and Williams show how to design and conduct activity programs that not only meet wellness policy requirements and goals but also motivate and encourage all students to be physically active. They also provide all the tools, activities, and forms to facilitate the development of the program. There is also a wealth of additional materials available to support the blueprint provided in Schoolwide Physical Activity.

The newly released Fitness for Life: Elementary School program provides a comprehensive set of resources to facilitate high-quality and coordinated activity, with health and fitness messages, throughout the school. Included are hours of follow-along video that classroom teachers and before- and after-school leaders can “plug and play” in support of the physical education program.

The Hip-Hop Health DVD is also an ideal plug-and-play program that promotes fun physical activity with a message. And Everybody Move! is a resource packed with teacher-tested ideas that will help increase activity in limited space such as hallways, classrooms, and utility rooms (or in the expanse of the great outdoors) and with limited equipment. Everybody Move! includes the following features:

  • A teacher guide featuring 54 fun fitness activities, 32 moving-to-music activities, 14 choreographed line dances, tips on training leaders, and 9 keys to implementing a daily physical activity program
  • A CD with 80 minutes of music for use with fitness station activities, aerobics, and 3- to 10-minute dance routines
  • A DVD-ROM with over 90 minutes of video showing 14 dance routines with selected moves and breakdowns of routines

Additional resources for helping fit big activity into small spaces are No Gym? No Problem!, Healthy Breaks, Fit Kids Classroom Workout DVD, and Fun Classroom Fitness Routines Ages 4 to 9 and Fun Classroom Fitness Routines Ages 10 to 14.

And to get students moving and thinking, consider Interdisciplinary Elementary Physical Education, Second Edition, and Active Bodies, Active Brains.

The theme of all these resources is to get students up and moving, because increasing activity is vital to their future as healthy adults. As Rink, Hall, and Williams write, “The lack of physical activity is a health problem not only in terms of premature death and the prevalence of chronic disease that affects our quality of life. Lack of physical activity and the increased health costs connected to taking care of large numbers of people with chronic diseases are a major burden on our economy. The percentage of our gross national product being spent on health care increases every year.”

Scott Wikgren is the director of health, physical education, recreation, and dance at Human Kinetics. He is a former physical educator and coach. He enjoys playing tennis and basketball, being outdoors with his dogs, and spending time with his wife and four children.

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Articles and Links

An excerpt from the testimony of Lori Rose Benson before House Committee on Education and Labor, July 24, 2008
The complete transcript is available in Schoolwide Physical Activity.

Featured Products

Everybody Move!-2nd Edition
Fit Kids Classroom Workout DVD
Fitness for Life Elementary School Program Package
Fun Classroom Fitness Routines Ages 10 to 14 DVD
Fun Classroom Fitness Routines Ages 4 to 9 DVD
Healthy Breaks
Hip-Hop Health DVD
Interdisciplinary Elementary Physical Education-2nd Edition
No Gym? No Problem!
Schoolwide Physical Activity

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