During School Activity

photo of children exercising
During school physical activity includes classroom-based activity, physical activity breaks, or recess time. Multiple studies have shown a positive relationship between physical activity during school hours and academic performance, memory and cognition, and there have been mixed evidence on the impact in behavior. Schools can facilitate increased physical activity during the school day by encouraging students to be active; providing students with space, facilities, equipment and supplies that make participating in activity appealing; and providing organized times and structured physical activities for interested students.


Best Practices

Dickson County Schools

Getting kids moving has been a goal for the year. As part of coordinated school health's partnership with the Dickson County Health Council we set a goal to increase teachers using GoNoodle in the classroom from 26% to 50% among our 8 elementary schools. This was one of the goals set as we applied for “Healthier Tennessee Community” status. We not only met, but exceeded our goal by 2%. A representative from the department of education came and did a great training for teachers on the importance of integrating movement in the classroom. Door prizes were given at this professional development with resources for including “Brain Breaks” into instruction.

Metro Nashville Public Schools

MNPS' coordinated school health hosted a GoNoodle Challenge for middle schools and elementary schools for the month of February, 2016. MNPS GoNoodle users increased from 1280 to 1378, a 7.7% increase, during the challenge. We provided 35 recess packs and 5 classroom sets of stability balls as prizes. We had an increase of 26.5% GoNoodle users over the whole academic year. MNPS coordinated school health purchased new equipment and materials for schools to check out of our lending library including: grades K-8 set of Michigan Model, health models and displays for Lifetime Wellness and comprehensive health classes, fitness skillastics games, child and teen fitness DVDs. MNPS CSH partnered with SUDIA, the Tennessee Titans and T-Rac to provide school-wide Play 60 assemblies at 18 elementary schools and 6 middle schools. These presentations focus on the importance of getting a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity per day and proper nutrition, including fresh produce, lean proteins and low-fat milk products.

Best Practices for Physical Activity Policy

Using or withholding of physical activity as punishment is an inappropriate practice that should be prohibited in local district policy. Tennessee State Board Policy 4.206 states that “Physical activity shall not be withheld from a student as a punishment”.


LEAs should align their policies with the recommendations of professional organizations, such as the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America). In their 2021 position statement, SHAPE America asserts the position that withholding physical activity (PA) and physical education (PE) as a form of punishment and/or behavior management is inappropriate. In addition, administering physical activity as punishment is inappropriate.

Resources to support this policy with best practice include, but are not limited to:

  • Strategies for Recess in Schools - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and SHAPE America have developed guidance documents that provide schools with 19 evidence-based strategies for recess, as well as a planning guide and template to help develop a written recess plan that integrates these strategies.
  • SHAPE America Guide for Recess Policy – Includes recommended policy language and rationale for each policy component. Example: “School staff shall be provided resources and at least one annual professional development event each year on conducting active recess, the benefits of physical activity, behavior management, emergency protocols, and systematic supervision”
  • Peaceful Playgrounds: Alternatives to Withholding Recess
  • Recess Lab by Playworks


Tools and Resources


  • GoNoodle is currently used in hundreds of classrooms across Tennessee.  The program includes activities that include purposeful movement, deep breathing, aerobic exercise, and class cohesion/interaction.  This program also offers academic subject-specific activities.  GoNoodle is free of charge and most activities take only 3 minutes to complete.

SPARKabcs Classroom and Recess Activity Program

  • Classroom activity solutions brought to you by the world's most researched & field-tested physical education program! Extensive evidence supports the association between school-based physical activity (PA) and academic performance.


  • TAKE10 is a classroom-based physical activity program, developed by the ILSI Research Foundation with the assistance of health professionals and education experts, combining academic instruction with 10 minutes physical activity breaks to get kids moving without sacrificing time dedicated to academic learning.

Energizing Brain Breaks

  • Energizing Brain Breaks are quick 1-2 minute activities for your classroom or audience.  They take virtually no preparation and no extra materials to perform.  Students and audiences of all ages love them

Active Academics

  • Active Academics® is a resource for classroom teachers to provide practical physical activity ideas that can be integrated into regular classroom content areas. Get students "up and moving" while still engaged in the academic learning process.

Adventure to Fitness

  • Inspiring kids to lead healthy lifestyles through imagination, education, and movement.

Move to Learn

  • Move to Learn is a video series of physical activity breaks for the classroom.

Take a Break!

  • This document was developed by the Colorado Education Initiative and is filled with Physical Activity breaks.

Brain and Body Boost

  • The WELNET® Brain and Body Boosts module is a collection of videos to allow children the movement breaks they need to increase cognitive performance, concentration and fitness. These high-quality educational videos and teaching resources provide an engaging and dynamic learning environment for all students.

Minds in Bloom

  • Minds in Bloom is a compilation of twenty three-minute brain breaks.

Action Base Learning Labs

  • The Action Based Learning™ Lab is a series of progressions and stations, each designed to prepare the brain for input and processing. Sensory components of balance, coordination, spatial awareness, directionality, and visual literacy are developed as the child rolls, creeps, crawls, spins, twirls, bounces, balances, walks, jumps, juggles, and supports his/her own weight in space. Levels of physical fitness are increased and academic concepts are reinforced. As students move from station to station with a partner or partners, their self awareness, self esteem, and social skills are enhanced. Each progression and station allows the student to experience challenge, feedback, and physical activity, three components that are necessary for optimal brain function.

Strategies for Recess in Schools

Active Living Resources for Schools

Integrating Physical Activity into the Complete School Day

Video - The Science Behind Brain Breaks

Playworks Resources for Recess and School-Based Play

Classrooms in Motion

Jack Hartmann Kids Music Channel

SHAPE America Activity Calendars

National Program for Playground Safety

Move 2 Learn