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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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School Health - Physical Activity

Children and youth spend a large part of their day at school. Physical activity is an important part of a healthy school. Health and physical education programs are most successful when they are provided in healthy schools and when school staff, families and communities provide students with the same messages about physical activity. When lessons from the classroom are supported by healthy school policies and environments, students are more likely to adopt those same healthy living habits throughout their lives.1

Everyone has a role to play in helping students get Active! Follow the links below to find out how you can help increase physical activity in your school!


Students can:

  • Organize intramural activities
  • Advocate for secure and adequate bicycle parking
  • Walk to school
  • Join the Active at School Movement. ACTIVE AT SCHOOL envisions a Canada where every student, from kindergarten to grade 12, is physically active for one hour a day. Visit to learn more about this initiative, and join the conversation on Twitter (#ActiveAtSchool).
  • Join the ParticipACTION Teen Challenge

Teachers/school staff can:

  • Include school snnouncements that address physical activity and sedentary behaviour. See the Announce It page for a list of example school announcements, newsletters and tweets.
  • Advocate, organize, supervise intramural activities
  • Lead On The Move - Theme Walks (PDF)
  • Organize Walk Across Canada (PDF) Challenge. This activity can be used to meet Daily Physical Activity (DPA) requirements.
  • Advocate for secure and adequate bicycle parking
  • Work towards having bicycles and helmets available to all students
  • Active Transportation 
    • Champion a Walk to School Day. Join students and families across Canada to celebrate International Walk to School Month (IWALK)
    • Implement a Walking School Bus program
    • Initiate a School Travel Plan
  • Join the Active at School Movement. ACTIVE AT SCHOOL envisions a Canada where every student, from kindergarten to grade 12, is physically active for one hour a day. Visit to learn more about this initiative, and join the conversation on Twitter (#ActiveAtSchool).
  • Join Active and Safe Routes to School
  • Playground infrastructure e.g. lines for tarmac games, play structures and sports balls available
  • Advocate for a school Physical Activity Centre – Find an unused spot in the school and set up space for equipment, mats, a yoga or pilates class.
  • For more resources: Educator - Curriclum, Teaching and Learning Resources - Middlesex-London Health Unit

Parents can:

  • Model physical activity as a fun, positive, everyday habit
  • Support children in the logistics associated with their activities (e.g. registration, transportation and participation)
  • Get involved with coaching
  • Doing physical activity as a family
  • Restricting the amount of screen time
  • Providing time and opportunity for children to play
  • Encouraging and praising participation

Community can:

  • Provide access to resources, information and support initiatives.
  • Community Partnerships may include: In Motion

Policy can:

  • Help create a positive learning and teaching environment which results in better academic outcomes for all students, helping them reach their full overall potential.
  • Clarify expectations and set guidelines so everyone involved in the school community understands the importance of physical activity and provides consistent opportunities for all students
  • Convey your schools commitment to aligning what is being taught in the class with the environment.

A comprehensive physical activity policy needs four elements:

  • Quality Education 
    Develop a deeper awareness and understanding of how physical activity and physical literacy lead to better health and improved academic outcomes. Quality physical education includes teaching students the skillls need to be physically active into their adult years
  • Assessment 
    Determine the extent and nature of physical activity, physical education and physical literacy opportunities in classrooms, school and nearby community. The assessment would consider the facility, equipment and other opportunities outside of the school
  • Action
    Provide opportunities for all students to learn physical education/literacy and to practice the skills learned in physical education classes through other initiatives such as intramurals, school sports and recreation programs. Avoid using physical education/activity opportunities as a punishment
  • Support
    Input from teachers, students and parents related to new programs, equipment and outside opportunities

Developing a School Physical Activity Policy or Guidelines (PDF) - a sample physical activity/literacy policy for your school or school board.

Other Helpful Resources:

Date of creation: November 12, 2012
Last modified on: July 26, 2017


1Ontario Ministry of Education. (2010). The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: Health and Physical Education, Interim Edition. Retrieved from