Tips for a successful Exercise-in-Place program
Keep activities short so teachers can easily incorporate them into busy school days. “Once teachers experience the rewards from just a few minutes of activity, they realize it’s worth it,” says Marilynn Szarka of Loesche Elementary School in Philadelphia.
Give students the reins. “Younger kids like to be led by older students. Let students choose music and activities. Let them take ownership,” says Jesus Mejia of Creating Opportunity for Physical Activity in California. “Increasing options to be engaged increases motivation to participate.”
Recognize when and what kind of break students need, says Sandra D’Avilar of Teunis G. Bergen Elementary School in Brooklyn. Zumba or jumping jacks might be good for antsy students who need to move, while yoga or meditation might be better when students need to calm down and start focusing.
Share the energy. “Make it [physical activity] across the entire building so everyone is doing it together and having fun,” D’Avilar says.
Involve families. “We are putting together ‘Family Fitness Friday’ because we need to educate parents as well,” says James Overton of Quibbletown Middle School in New Jersey. “Personal trainers, nutritional counselors, farmers and psychologists will discuss benefits of overall wellness, and we’ll have activities in our gym to show how easy it is to be active and have fun.”
Add variety. “Create a campus that encourages physical activity in various ways,” Mejia says. “Listen to kids. Learn their interests and design a program they can embrace.”