Increase Physical Activity and Physical Education

In This Section



Establish and Sustain an Active Lifestyle

Physical activity is bodily movement of any type, while physical education programs (PE) use physical activity to teach children how to establish and sustain an active lifestyle. Both are important for obesity prevention and a student’s healthy development.

  • Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (CDC)
    • Adults caring for children ages 3 through 5 should encourage active play (light, moderate, or vigorous intensity) and aim for at least 3 hours per day.
    • Each day, youth ages 6 through 17 need at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity .
  • Physical Education Guidelines: SHAPE America recommends that schools provide 150 minutes of instructional physical education for elementary school children and 225 minutes for middle and high school students per week for the entire school year.

Physical Education Class

What PTAs Can Do 

  • Join your school wellness committee.
  • Raise funds for new athletic or playground equipment that promotes physical activity.
  • Organize a “clean up our playground” event.
  • Form walking or running clubs for students and families.
  • Host a turkey trot, walkathon or other fun run to raise money for your school.
  • Create a walking school bus or bike train—groups of students who walk or bike to school together with parents who rotate supervision duties.
  • Organize a Safe Routes to School program to create a safer environment for children to walk and bike to and from school.
  • Partner with local fitness organizations to provide active afterschool activities, such as Family Fitness Nights, in your school’s facility.
  • Give parents info about community physical activity resources (such as programs at the local YMCA).

Learn More

  • Active Schools - Free resources and training to help schools increase students’ physical activity before, during and after class.