Find 2-3 minutes for classroom physical activity throughout the day

A story from Washington


When Darin Nolan, Health and PE Teacher at Bellingham High School, was first integrating physical activity into his classes, he reflected that “the first thing I struggled with was time.” He observed that for many teachers, “that’s one of the biggest barriers I hear – we’ve got to stay on time, got to stay on track, we’ve got to get our work done.”

What changed his mind was realizing that an activity “really only takes 1-2 minutes” and finding activities that were “game changers” for him.

Key Takeaways

Figure out your “why.” As a teacher who may be feeling stretched thin by the responsibilities of managing a classroom, identifying “why” classroom physical activity is important to you is a key first step. For Mr. Nolan, he wanted to “break up the monotony of sitting at a desk and get kids moving a little bit.” He also saw an opportunity to energize his classes:

“If they seem tired, we’ll do exercises a couple of times and find multiple ways to get them up and moving.”

Figuring out your “why” may help kickstart your interest in integrating physical activity into your classroom.

Build it into the daily routine. Mr. Nolan identified several opportunities throughout the day when he’ll integrate physical activity into his lesson: at the beginning of class, before quizzes, first thing in the morning, and during academic content. For Mr. Nolan, “realizing that you only need 2-3 minutes from beginning to end of a physical activity and then you can transition” helped him build physical activity into the culture and daily routine of his classroom.

Find activities that work for your class. Mr. Nolan reflected that “A good starting point that really helped me was purchasing the Fit Deck card” [Read our Story from the Field about Exercise Cards here]. This activity offered a variety of physical activities and gave his students choice. For him, that was a perfect fit for what he was trying to achieve in his classroom. Check out our Strategy 4 Stories From the Field for more go-to activities from fellow teachers and our national partners.