Strategies for Physical Activity Promotion beyond the Physical Education Classroom: Your Physical Education Class May Do a Great Job Getting Students Active, but What about the Other 23+ Hours in the Day?

Article excerpt

Much of the focus for physical education teachers relates to the curriculum and each individual lesson that is taught. It is important, however, to advocate for another aspect of the program that teachers are trying to promote: physical activity outside of the physical education classroom. With the limited amount of time for physical education, students cannot reach the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity (National Association for Sport and Physical Education [NASPE], 2004b). To make up the difference, physical educators need to help promote, facilitate, and model opportunities for students to be active outside of class. The Healthy People 2010 goals state that individuals should increase their daily physical activity levels and increase their quality of life through physical activity (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [USDHHS], 2000). These goals can be reached by combining the efforts of physical educators with the efforts of other school and community professionals. This article provides suggestions for physical educators to help students, their friends, and even their families to lead a physically active lifestyle and make healthy choices outside of the physical education program.

Setting the Tone

Physical educators can be a positive influence on a student's level of participation in physical activity. A positive, motivating, success-oriented, nonthreatening, active school environment helps to create a solid foundation for students. Sallis and McKenzie (1991) argued that students who are positively motivated in physical education can be influenced to adopt a physically active lifestyle as adults, and for this approach they coined the term "health-related physical education." Their article launched an array of research studies supporting the link between physical education and physical activity outside of school (Wallhead & Buckworth, 2004). This topic, along with perceived competence in activity, continues to be examined for stronger links between physical education in school and physical activity outside of school. Gordon-Larsen, McMurray, and Popkin (2000) reported, for example, that participation in physical education led to an increase overall in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity participation. Beyond motivating physical education students and helping them to increase their perceived competence as movers, physical educators must set the tone and provide opportunities for activity outside of physical education programs (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 1997).

The following teacher- and school-level strategies will help to bridge the gap between what physical educators teach in physical education and how active children are outside of the physical education program.

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Teacher-Level Strategies

Teacher Cooperation. Classroom teachers and other school personnel need to realize that developing healthy and active students is a school-wide effort. Participating on the wellness committee at school and being in communication with classroom teachers, food service personnel, administrators, and curricular specialists can serve this purpose (Castelli & Beighle, 2007). The other teachers in the school should be informed about the goals and benefits of the physical education program, and about the benefits of physical activity breaks and of integrating health knowledge into other subjects. Teachers should be encouraged to provide three-to five-minute activity breaks during the school day (e.g., jumping rope in place without a rope, animal walks around the room, partner and mass stand up). Maeda and Murata (2004) offer a good guide to implementation of such activity breaks. Teachers also need to be informed of the national VERB campaign to get students active every day (www.cdc.gov/youthcampaign/index.htm) and provided with a booklet of activity break ideas. The principal could even present some of these activities at staff meetings (Darst & Pangrazi, 2006; Pangrazi, 2007). …