Strategy 4

Identify approaches to incorporate classroom physical activity.

Classroom physical activity can promote classroom management and increase student engagement in the learning process, while helping students get more minutes of physical activity. The two primary approaches for classroom physical activity are:

Physical activity integrated into planned academic instruction. Physical activity during academic instruction can be added to a teacher’s lesson planning process to ensure that activities reinforce the desired content and academic standards and help limit the amount of time students are sedentary. Teachers can identify physical activities that fit their teaching style and include them in their lesson plans.

Physical activity outside of planned academic instruction. Physical activity outside of planned academic instruction is not necessarily tied to the lesson being taught. It can be spontaneously added to limit sedentary time or when the teacher sees a drop in student energy, attentiveness, or retention. These physical activities can also be preplanned so teachers can quickly and easily incorporate them during class.

Both of these approaches have been shown to increase levels of physical activity throughout the school day and improve different aspects of the learning environment and academic achievement. Other ways to increase physical activity in the classroom include:

  • Encouraging physical activity as students move between activities or classrooms.
  • Using physical activity as a reward or incentive for appropriate classroom behavior.
  • Adding physical activity at the beginning of the school day—for example, school-wide exercise during morning announcements.
  • Identifying ways to turn sedentary activities, such as waiting in line, into time for physical activity.

Citations can be found in Strategies for Classroom Physical Activity in Schools.

Key Activities

Put Strategy 4 into practice through the following activities:

✓ Determine how and to what extent physical activity is currently being integrated into or outside of planned academic instruction.

✓ Identify facilitators or barriers to integrating classroom physical activity.

✓ Identify ways to address facilitators or barriers to increase opportunities for classroom physical activity.

✓ Identify new activities for classroom physical activity.

Questions for Consideration

Use the following questions to guide key activities and inspire new ideas:

How frequently are students engaged in classroom physical activity?

What are the current go-to methods or activities for classroom physical activity?

What barriers exist that prevent integration of physical activity through either approach? How can these barriers be addressed?

What activities or resources can be introduced to help teachers adopt or promote classroom physical activity?

What activities or resources can be introduced to enhance and sustain classroom physical activity?

How can activities reinforce skills learned in physical education?


Classroom Physical Activity Assessment
This tool encourages teachers to reflect on their individual efforts to integrate physical activity into the classroom. It provides questions to help them reflect on their efforts and identify ways to increase  physical activity in their classrooms.

Classroom Physical Activity Planning Template 
This template (to be used for Strategies 4-8) helps teachers identify physical activities that will work in their classrooms. It also helps teachers plan how they will add physical activity to their classrooms as they develop their lesson plans and units. Name and description of activities will be recorded in Column 2.

As part of Stories From the Field, Springboard to Active Schools spoke with physical activity champions from around the United States to learn about their tried and true “go-to” classroom physical activities. These activities are ones they use time and time again in their classrooms or during professional development events as a way to integrate physical activity for students and adults.

If you have a favorite activity that you’d like to share, submit you activity here.

Movement Integrated into Planned Academic Instruction

Kinesthetic Spelling

Silent Signs

Toss and Catch

Total Physical Response

Quiz Quiz Trade

Vote With Your Feet

Stand Up – Hand Up – Pair Up

Movement Outside of Academic Instruction

Active Rock, Paper, Scissors

Guess Who the Leader Is?

Exercise Cards