Why Active School Environments Matter

Active Students = Better Learners = Stronger and Healthier Communities

The growing prevalence of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes is well documented and is greatly influenced by low levels of physical activity. Strong physical education programs and increased opportunities for physical activity can teach students lifelong healthy habits and support them in growing up into healthier adults with decreased risk of chronic diseases. Young people who are physically active at school are also more likely to be physically active at home and are twice as likely to continue to be active in adulthood.

Active and healthy school environments serve as a foundation for learning. Engaging in regular physical activity results in many physical, social and emotional, and academic benefits. Studies show that active students:


  • Consistently outperform less active, unfit students academically in both the short and long term,
  • Demonstrate better classroom behavior,
  • Demonstrate a greater ability to focus, and
  • Report lower rates of absenteeism.1,2


Helping students become more physically active can help school districts improve overall school climate and achieve better overall test scores and grades.1,2


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health and Academic Achievement Overview. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2014:1–12.
2 Michael SL, Merlo C, Basch C, et al. Critical connections: health and academics. J Sch Health. 2015;85(11):740–758.