Increase Physical Activity: What Your PTA Can Do
Physical activity is an important part of the equation in preventing childhood obesity. But did you know that physical activity also helps students with their math equations? Research has shown that more physical activity equals greater success in school.
Physical activity is bodily movement of any type, while physical education (PE) programs provide activity and teach children the skills and knowledge they need to establish and sustain an active lifestyle. Both are important for students’ healthy development and play important roles in obesity prevention. For more information: http://www.aahperd.org/naspe/publications/teachingTools/PAvsPE.cfm
Your PTA can help support student learning at your school by promoting physical activity and physical education in the following ways:
Advocate for quality physical education that meets national guidelines:
- Learn about the benefits of physical education and share this information with your school’s principal and district leaders.
- Find out how much physical education children at your school receive during the week. The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) recommends 150 minutes per week of instructional physical education for elementary school children (225 minutes per week for middle and high school students).
- Ask your kids about their PE classes, or volunteer to help and observe a class first hand. Share NASPE’s physical education guidelines and criteria for effective physical education programs with your school’s principal and PE teacher.
Find out if your school participates in the Presidential Youth Fitness Program.
This comprehensive school-based program promotes active lifestyles by assessing students’ health and helping them measure their progress over time. The program is free to all schools.
Encourage physical activity during the school day:
- Find out what opportunities children have for physical activity during the school day. NASPE recommends that school-age children accumulate at least 60 minutes and up to several hours of physical activity per day while avoiding long periods of inactivity.
- Share NASPE’s physical activity guidelines with your school’s principal.
- Volunteer to help at recess, and observe what games and equipment are available. Raise funds for new athletic equipment or playground equipment that promotes physical activity.
Encourage students to walk or bike to school:
- Organize a “walking school bus”—groups of students who walk to school together with parents who rotate supervision duties. It increases daily physical activity while keeping everyone safe.
- Organize a Safe Routes to School program to create a safer environment for children to walk and bike to and from school. Learn more: http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/ or http://www.saferoutespartnership.org/
- Launch your program, or gauge your school community’s interest, by conducting an event for Walk to School Day (October) or Bike to School Day (May). http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/
Organize active PTA fundraisers and events:
- Sponsor a bike-a-thon, walk-a-thon, or 5K walk/run.
- Host a schoolwide dance.
- Organize a crew to wash cars, rake leaves or shovel snow for neighborhood families, for a small fee or donation to the PTA.
- Plan a parent-teacher basketball game and sell tickets.
- Provide pedometers for a schoolwide “steps” contest. Give an award to the parent, teacher, student and staff member who take the most steps in a given month.
- Bring teachers, parents and students together for a before- or afterschool walking, biking, running, or skating club.
Support community activities:
- Give parents information about community physical activity resources (such as programs at the local YMCA).
- Partner with local organizations to provide active afterschool activities in your school’s facilities.