“Healthy, physically active kids learn and feel better!”
That is the key message the National Association for Sport and Physical Education wants to express in honor of May: National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. To achieve that goal, the Association urges parents, schools and communities to work together to help children become more physically active by creating “physical activity friendly” environments.
“Children and adolescents should spend at least 60 minutes every day in a variety of moderate to vigorous physical activities,” says Association President Craig Buschner of California State University at Chico. “In order to achieve that level of activity, we need to find more opportunities for children to be physically active throughout the entire day. Maintaining healthy bodies is not only vital for physical well-being, but for mental and emotional development as well.”
The Association has a number of tools for parents to help them in evaluating their children’s physical education and sport programs. Visit
School physical education is the cornerstone to developing an active lifestyle. Physical education can help students to be more active, more fit, and achieve better academically. In addition to physical education, a physical activity friendly environment for kids includes school and community physical activity programs, that feature a diverse selection of competitive and noncompetitive, structured and unstructured activities, are inclusive and meet the needs and interests of all youth with a wide range of abilities, particularly those with limited interests or skills in traditional athletic activities, and emphasize participation and enjoyment without pressure. In addition, walking and biking to school, recess, and physical activity breaks should be a part of the school environment.
Parents and other significant adults (teachers, coaches, etc) should model physically active lifestyles. Parents/guardians need to be aware of the school and community resources that they can choose from to assist children in learning to lead healthy, active lifestyles. Extended day and after school programs also provide an important opportunity to incorporate physical activity into programs that typically focus on crafts, movies, board games and homework. By allowing the kids to participate and hone their skills in active games, they not only gain the opportunity to succeed and get fit, but practice the skills that can help them succeed in organized sports and activities that encourage interest in regular participation outside of the program. All of us must advocate for, take responsibility and seek accountability for physical activity in the education of ALL children and youth.
In summary, to get children more physically active, parents, schools and communities must establish a “physical activity friendly” environment that includes:
1. quality physical education programs in all schools.
2. recess for elementary school age children, and physical activity breaks for students of all ages
3. before school and after school programs that include physical activity
4. school facilities available during the non-school hours
5. positive sport opportunities for all youth
6. safe and well-lit walking paths and physical activity spaces/fields on school grounds and other public areas
7. family activities that involve physical activity (e.g. in-line skating, bike riding, family fitness nights)
8. restrictions on sedentary activities such as television, movies, web surfing and computer games.
The preeminent national authority on physical education and a recognized leader in sport and physical activity, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) is a non-profit professional membership association that sets the standard for practice in physical education and sport. NASPE’s 17,000 members include: K-12 physical education teachers, coaches, athletic directors, athletic trainers, sport management professionals, researchers, and college/university faculty who prepare physical activity professionals. NASPE seeks to enhance knowledge, improve professional practice, and increase support for high quality physical education, sport and physical activity programs through research, development of standards, and dissemination of information. It is the largest of the five national associations that make the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance (AAHPERD). To assess whether your child is receiving a quality physical education program, visit www.naspeinfo.org/observePE for an observation assessment tool.