Active Living Strategy #7: Increase Physical Activity In Physical Education

Our Healthier Communities Initiatives are built on the concept that local communities can work together to give all community members healthy choices and support the pursuit of healthy lifestyles.  More than 160 Ys are working in collaboration with community leaders to make changes in policies and the physical surroundings in those communities so that healthy living is within reach for individuals of all ages and backgrounds.

Active Living Strategy #7: Increase Physical Activity In Physical Education

When schools make the most of physical activity options, kids can improve their health and academic performance. Increasing the level of physical activity in physical education classes has been shown to have a positive impact on students' health.


Increasing the level of physical activity in physical education classes has been shown to have a positive impact on students’ health. This can be accomplished without requiring additional time or resources by training physical education and classroom teachers on how to incorporate more moderate to vigorous physical activity into their existing programs. Some physical education interventions showed a significant impact on body-mass index (BMI), cholesterol and blood pressure in comparison with the control group. Studies have shown that spending more time in physical education does not have harmful effects on academic achievement but instead may actually improve performance.


  1. Carlson, S.A., Fulton, J.E., Lee, S.M., Maynard, M.L., Brown, D.R., Kohl, H.W., & Dietz, W.H. (2008). Physical education and academic achievement in elementary school: Data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. American Journal of Public Health, 98(4), 721–727.
  2. Coe, D.P., Pivarnik, J.M., Womack, C.J., Reeves, M.J., & Malina, R.M. (2006). Effect of physical education and activity levels on academic achievement in children. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38(8), 1515–1519.
  3. Ewart, C.K., Young, D.R., & Hagberg, J.M. (1998). Effects of a school-based aerobic exercise on blood pressure in adolescent girls at risk for hypertension. American Journal of Public Health, 88(6), 949–951.
  4. Gortmaker, S.L., Peterson, K., Wiecha, J., Sobol, A.M., Dixit, S., Fox, M.K., & Laird, N. (1999). Reducing obesity via a school-based interdisciplinary intervention among youth. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 153, 409–418.
  5. Harrell, J.S., McMurrary, R.G., Gansky, S.A., Bangdiwala, S.I., & Bradley, C.B. (1999). A public health vs. a risk-based intervention to improve cardiovascular health in elementary school children: The Cardiovascular Health in Children Study. American Journal of Public Health, 89(10), 1529–1535.
  6. Luepker, R.V., Perry, C.l., McKinlay, S.M., Nader, P.R., Parcel, G.S., Stone, E.J., Webber, L.S., Elder, J.P., Feldman, H.A., Johnson, C.C., Kelder, S.H., & Wu, M. (1996). Outcomes of a field trial to improve children's dietary patterns and physical activity. Journal of American Medical Association, 275(10), 768–776.
  7. Manios, Y., Moschandreas, J., Hatzis, C., & Kafatos, A. (1999). Evaluation of a health and nutrition education program in primary school children of Crete over a three-year period. Preventive Medicine, 28, 149–159.
  8. McKenzie, T.L., Nader, P.R., Strikmiller, P.K., Yang, M., Stone, E.J., Perry, C.L., Taylor, W.C., Epping, J.N., Feldman, H.A., Luepker, R.V., & Kelder, S.H. (1996). School physical education: effect of the child and adolescent trial for cardiovascular health. Preventive Medicine, 25, 423–431.
  9. McKenzie, T.L., Sallis, J., Prochaska, J., Conway, T., Marshall, S., & Rosengard, P. (2004). Evaluation of a two-year middle-school physical education intervention: M-SPAN. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 36(8), 1382–1388.
  10. 1Sallis, J.F., McKenzie, T.L., Kolody, B., Lewis, M., Marshall, S., & Rosengard, P. (1999). Effects of health-related physical education on academic achievement: Project SPARK. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 70(2), 127–134.

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