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Posts tagged: back to school

Active Kids Do Better: A Win-Win for All

Written by Shellie Pfohl, Executive Director, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition

As the buzzer sounds on another sizzling summer, kids across America are getting back in the game and gearing up for another school year. Now, instead of days filled with swimming, biking, climbing trees and playing, most kids will spend six to seven hours each day within school walls. 

The primary focus of schools is to help students learn and develop foundational skills and knowledge to succeed in life. But with the increasing demands and pressures of improving standardized test scores and grade point averages are we defeating these goals by eliminating or significantly restricting the time students are physically active throughout the school day?

When it comes to the school environment, the latest research shows that increased physical activity and improved academic outcomes don’t have to be an either-or-proposition. In fact, physical activity and academic success go hand and hand – a true win-win for all.

Physical activity not only helps kids stay healthy, it can also lead to higher test scores, improved attendance, better behavior in class and lower rates of childhood obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), school-aged youth should participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day to reap these benefits.

That’s why the President’s Council is proud to serve as the federal lead for Let’s Move! Active Schools – a comprehensive school-based physical activity program that will help make physical activity the new norm for schools. Let’s Move! Active Schools encourages schools to develop a culture in which physical activity and physical education are foundational to academic success.

Powered by a national collaboration of leading health and education organizations, Let’s Move! Active Schools streamlines the selection of programs, resources, professional development and funding opportunities, and delivers a customized action plan – making it simple for teachers and administrators to implement.

Across the nation, we are starting to see positive changes take hold. Bower Hill Elementary School in Venetia, Pennsylvania is a powerful example. Recently, the school started a walking program that quickly grew into a marathon challenge, where teachers and their students attempted to walk a marathon over the course of the year, leading up to participation in the final mile at the Pittsburgh Kids Marathon.

To learn how you, too, can be a “game-changer” for your school, sign up to be a champion for Active Schools at www.letsmoveschools.org.  For more information about the learning connection between regular physical activity and academic performance, visit http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/health_and_academics/.

Help Children and Teens Get an Active Start to the School Year

Written by the NIH Weight-Control Information Network

For many, September marks the start of a new school year. It is also National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. This observance is especially important in the United States, where about one-third of children and teens are overweight or obese. With extra weight in young people linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, many people may want to help youth improve their health throughout the year.

The Weight-control Information Network (WIN) offers these ideas for helping an overweight child:

  • Set a good example. Show your child that you are physically active and enjoy what you do.
  • Be active together as a family. Assign active chores, such as making beds, sweeping, or vacuuming. Plan active outings, like a walk through a local park.
  • Encourage your child to join a sports team or class, such as basketball, dance, or soccer, at school or at your local community or recreation center.
  • If your child feels uncomfortable playing sports, help him or her find physical activities that are fun and not competitive, such as playing tag, jumping rope, or riding a bike.

For teens, WIN offers these tips:

  • Be physically active for 60 minutes a day. It’s fine if you can’t do it all at once! You can be active for as little as 10 minutes at a time, spread throughout the day.
  • Walk or bike to school if you live nearby and can safely do so.
  • Between classes, stand up and walk around, even if your next subject is in the same room.
  • Choose activities you like. Try running, playing flag football, or having a dance party with friends.

Find more ideas for helping kids in WIN’s Helping Your Overweight Child. Also available in Spanish, this brochure offers tips for parents and other caregivers to support an overweight child while also helping her or him to be healthy. Along with ideas to help your child be more active, it features lists of healthy snacks and tips to help your child consume healthy foods and beverages each day.

For the teen in your life, check out WIN’s Take Charge of Your Health: A Guide for Teenagers, also available in Spanish. This booklet gives teens basic facts about regular physical activity and healthy food and beverage choices and offers practical tips they can use in everyday life.

Have you done something that worked to encourage kids and teens to get more physical activity? What did you do?