6 ways to integrate physical activity into your school day

There are many benefits to being physically active, regardless of our age. The positive effects on the body are numerous – strengthening our heart and lungs, lowering blood cholesterol levels and regulating blood pressure, developing stronger bones, muscles and joints….a pretty impressive list.  Additionally, the mental health benefits enjoyed by those who include some form of physical activity as part of their daily routine – relieving stress, improving memory, boosting their overall mood and positively impacting on depression, proves that physical activity is a winner!
Is it possible in a busy school environment to include and provide opportunities for physical activity every day? Yes!
 Creative thinking, coupled with the desire to be a positive role model will enable school staff to provide an exciting physical activity menu for children, where everyone can reap the benefits.
Here are 6 simple ways you could use, to integrate physical activity in to your school day:

1. Planned Daily Activities

The daily mile may work for your school, a daily dance may work just as well or a daily workout.  We advise a vibrant and varied menu – offer something different every day or every half term.  This could also go some way to help all children find an activity they enjoy and hopefully would want to pursue.  Today, it is possible to find lots of interactive online activities to encourage movement and dance, yoga and functional fitness – search, search and search some more.  Involve the children in creating a weekly menu and give them some ownership – excite them in the planning stage and they will be a captive audience when taking part.

2. Active Curriculum

Physical activity isn’t just for PE lessons! Active lessons across the busy Primary Curriculum can help not only with academic learning but can increase motivation and enthusiasm, address different styles of learning that children may have, by focusing on the kinaesthetic, bringing learning to life in a fun and exciting way, using the creativity Primary teachers possess in bucket loads! Can you teach your maths topic through physical activity? Is there the opportunity to deliver your literacy lesson in a practical way that gets children out of their seats and moving around?

3. Active Playtimes

Opportunities to develop leadership coupled with the provision of activities at playtime is a win – win situation. The less sporty can sometimes be the most amazing leaders, showing empathy and understanding to the less active and promoting regular physical activity through fun games on a daily basis. Two baller, skipping with a long rope, hula hooping and What Time is It Mr Wolf – can you remember the joy they all brought?!  Training of lunchtime supervisors or employing a PE Apprentice can really support active playtimes!

4. Travel to and from school

How do the children travel to school? Walking trains, scooting and cycling are all options to consider – as are incentives in school for doing it.  Promoting this even once a week as a focus day and celebrating participation across school is a possible approach to help develop a healthy habit.  An active start to the day will have children entering school ready to learn! 

5. Regular Brain Breaks

During the school-day, regular brain breaks in the classroom are a positive way of ensuring learning is productive. Brain breaks can be energising, fun, stimulating and effective.  If you implement just 6 x 5 minutes opportunities in a day = 30 minutes of physical activity achieved!

6. The PE lessons count

EVERY SINGLE PE LESSON COUNTS.  Maths doesn’t get cancelled to practise the Christmas play – so why should PE?  A subject which brings so much to our pupils socially, benefits their physical health and fitness as well as their mental health and well-being, develops communication, leadership skills and problem solving surely deserves our full attention!  Sticking with the recommended 2 hours of PE per week, in 2x1hr lessons will cover Active 30 for 2 days (Just 3 days left to plan for)!  Although, we would still advise regular brain breaks and active playtimes, even on a PE day!

A commitment to value PE lessons needs to be a staff culture – something worth nurturing for the benefits it will reap physically, socially and cognitively!

 Is it possible in a busy school environment to include and provide opportunities for physical activity every day? Yes!

More practical ideas:

Schools can access some amazing resources on the free to access County Durham Active 30 Hub –  https://activedurham.org.uk/active30durham

Our Fit for Life programme is designed to support schools to implement Active 30 with 10 minute moderate to vigorous workouts and a series of classroom brain breaks – www.fitforlifeschools.org.uk

Our Active Ted resource pack can help you to track and reward participation as well as inspire activity at home – https://www.go-well.org/product/active-ted-pack/

 

We hope this blog was helpful.  For any further information please contact Annalisa Hopkins – annalisahopkins@go-well.org.

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