May Is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

Curriculum Review, April 2015 | Go to article overview

May Is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month


As the remains of an especially cold, harsh winter across much of the country finally melt away, your student may have come down with a bad case of spring fever. More than likely they've been holed up inside for weeks and now have extra energy to burn.

We all know that physical activity can fend off obesity, reduce the risk of heart disease and improve cognitive functioning but a growing body of research and many educators have embraced the idea that incorporating physical activity throughout the day--not just on the playground or in Physical Education (PE) class--can also improve learning.

In honor of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, Curriculum Review has compiled some tips to help you reap the benefits of adding more movement to the school day.

Making Classrooms More Active

According to Allison Oliver, chief executive of the Youth Sport Trust, a London-based organization dedicated to changing students' lives through sport and activity, brain function decreases after 17 minutes of sitting.

Some educators have suggested that PE be given the same status as core subjects to tackle obesity. In Finland, a new government initiative called "Schools on the Move" was started to combat the country's growing obesity problem by infusing physical activity into the everyday classroom routine. What started as a pilot program is now being used in over 800 schools.

Tim Walker, an American teacher, spent time teaching in Finland and wrote about the experience for The Atlantic. Before teaching abroad, he'd caught onto the idea of the negative impact of sitting too much. He noted the restlessness of his Massachusetts first graders when he had them sit passively on a rug for too long.

Inspired by what he observed in Finland, Walker experimented with less sit-down time in his classes back in America. …

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