For the sake of a healthy heart, children need Physical Education (PE) time in school. They need it even more when they go home. Elementary Physical Education teachers know how to lower the childhood
obesity rate. Some argue that they just aren’t given enough space or money to put their plans into place.
On Twitter, February 17, Jayne Greenberg, a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition said that to support healthy hearts, children need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day.
The challenge of leading children in physical activity 60 minutes a day
Achieving the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day for
elementary students is a challenge, according to Bettyann Creighton,
Director of Health, Safety and Physical Education at the School District of
Philadelphia. “What we try to do is make sure every child gets quality
Physical Education, socialized recess and movement breaks in the classroom,
and hope that they continue physical activity when they go home,” she said.
Movement breaks, which Creighton pointed out, are 10 minute breaks where
students stand next to their desk and exercise. “We have had tremendous
success using the program called Activity Works. Students move along with
an adventure that they see on the screen. Examples include The Wonders of
the World, Outer Space and The Rainforest. Their heart rate increases as they
move through the adventure. Another example of a movement break is the
morning news or an announcement leading a set of exercises to begin the day.
Children anticipate the opportunity of leading an activity in school. “When
children leave school at the end of the day, we are hoping that they will
continue to be active,” Creighton added.
The purpose of the National Physical Activity Plan
Individually, children may find it challenging to maintain their health.
Parents also may find it a struggle locating an affordable afterschool
program. However, the National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP) has a
vision that “one day, all Americans will be physically active and will live,
work and play in environments that facilitate regular physical activity.”
The first National Physical Activity Plan for the United States began
in October, 2006, and finished in the NPAP’s launch in May, 2010. The plan
aims to create a national culture that supports physically active lifestyles. Its
ultimate purpose is to improve health, prevent disease and disability, and
enhance quality of life. The National Physical Activity Plan is comprised of
recommendations organized in eight societal sectors. These sectors include:
Business and Industry; Education; Health Care; Mass Media; Parks; Recreation,
Fitness and Sports; Public Health; Transportation, Land Use, and Community
Design; and Volunteer and Non-Profit. Each of these sectors have strategies
aimed at promoting physical activity. The strategies in each sector also outlines
specific tactics that communities, organizations and agencies, and individuals
can use to address.
A strategy outlined in the education sector is to provide access to and
opportunities for high-quality, comprehensive physical activity. Some of
tactics that agencies, communities and individuals can use to address the
● Advocate for increased federal funding for Physical Education and
and physical activity programs proven to provide high amounts of
● Require pre-service and continuing education for Physical Education
and elementary classroom teachers to deliver high-quality Physical
Education and physical activity programs.
● Provide continuing education classes and seminars for all teachers on
state-of-the-art physical activities for children. The training must provide
information on adapting activities for children with disabilities, in
classrooms and physical education settings.
● Encourage higher education institutions to train future teachers and
school personnel on the importance of physical activity to academic
achievement and success for students from Pre-kindergarten through
The National Physical Activity Plan Congress will be held Feb 23-24, in
Washington, DC. Together, communities, organizations and agencies are
working to help children reach their health goals.