May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, but any time is a great time to introduce what will hopefully be a lifelong love of physical activity to your students. By instilling the importance of regular physical activity to children when they’re young, you can help build a foundation for future physical health.
Benefits of Lifelong Physical Activity
Here are just a few of the long term benefits of staying physically active throughout your life:
- Improved bone and heart health, including a lower risk of heart disease
- Better general muscular fitness and function
- Lower risk of type 2 diabetes and some kinds of cancer
- Better or improved cognitive functions throughout life
- Lower risk of falls as a senior citizen
- Lower levels of stress
- Prevention or combat of obesity and other chronic health conditions
Three Ways to Get Students Moving and Active
By making it more about doing something enjoyable and fun, physical activity and exercise can easily be introduced in a way that will be appealing to children. Here are a few suggestions for getting your class interested in being active.
Organizing students into teams for fun group sports is a great way to encourage fitness and will also give them an introduction into a sport they may love and continue to play outside of school. Some popular examples of sports that keep you moving include kickball, volleyball, or basketball.
Another good way to motivate your students to participate is to add an element of friendly competition. Have your students each take a turn jumping rope for as long as they can without making a mistake and encourage them to try and beat the highest record. Or set up a relay race, where students must meet complete physical challenges to move on.
By encouraging students to think of simple, daily physical activities they can share at home with their families, like taking a walk or going on bike rides together, you could be helping them build good fitness habits from an early age. Families that engage in physical activities they all enjoy together are more likely to stick them. It’s also a good idea to discourage children from having too much screen-time with tablets, computers or TV.
Student Physical Activity Goal: 60 Minutes
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children need 60 minutes or more physical activity every day in order to gain the most health benefits from it, in addition to a balanced, healthy diet. We hope that this list can help you encourage the students in your class to start building a healthier future today.