As evidenced within the article, the World Health Organization as well as the US Department of Health and Human Services both recommend that children receive sixty minutes of exercise or activity three days a week. However, as many as 3/4th of children do not meet these levels of physical activity. Improving these statistics would first begin with improving student literacy of health and physical education. Literacy is defined as knowledge of the value of health and physical education; essentially, understanding the importance and correlation between health and physical activity. In order to improve this literacy, a teacher can help promote health and physical activity in several ways, such as promoting health awareness; generating student interest; providing students with a platform to be physically active through in-class activities; and working with colleagues within one’s school to design physically-active opportunities and events for students.
Many students would benefit simply from having more knowledge on the value of physical activity. Resources such as the Shape America New York Fact Sheet provide information for educators, but this information should also be shared with students. Many of the statistics provided in the fact sheet, such as showing how there is a correlation between fitness and test scores, should be shared directly with students, as this will make them consider being more active in order to achieve higher scores. Beyond this, traditional health related lessons can also be used to generate student interest in physical activity. Lessons in nutrition, biology, history, and even science will naturally lend themselves to various health-related topics. For instance, history can involve a sports-related subject, such as the history of the Olympics, while a science class exploring basic elements of physics, such as gravity, can evolve into a lesson involving baseball or soccer. Students might engage in a physical-based lesson, and then be rewarded with playing a game.
Many students find physical activity to be inherently fun as a form of play, so encouraging students and providing them with more knowledge can be one way to motivate students to want to engage in physical activities on their own. Before a child can play soccer, he or she must be first introduced to soccer; if teachers at least introduce the sport of soccer, even if incorporated into a non health-related lesson such as a reading assignment or geometry lesson, students might become more naturally curious about the subject they have just learned. In this instance, the subject would involve a form of sport, so this can be a way to provide students with sports knowledge they may later seek to explore on their own.
Additionally, teachers should work with colleagues within the school to help promote physical activity. This can involve the formation of various sporting clubs, noncompetitive in nature, that allow students to join various teams and engage in sports. Promoting a field day, which would be a day devoted to outdoor activities, can be another way to help students become more physically active. Thus, an educator should seek to work toward advancing health education not only within the classroom, but also throughout the school.
Overall, the best way to promote more physical activity among students is to educate students on the importance of physical activity, and then design ways to make learning or pursuing active interests more interesting and fun for students. Because children are already predisposed toward engaging in physical play, through various games such as tag, this interest should be naturally encouraged. The activity should be seen as fun, rather than tedious, such as running laps or doing pull-ups. As long as the opportunities are available for students, through classroom activities or extracurricular activities, children should naturally want to pursue becoming more active.