• School-based PE is effective in increasing levels of physical activity and improving physical fitness.
  • Time spent in PE classes increased by approximately 10%, and time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in PE classes increased by approximately 50%.
  • Aerobic capacity increased by approximately 8%.


To learn more view The CDC Guide to Strategies to Increase Physical Activity in the Community.

How to Make it Happen

These programs modify school-based physical education (PE) classes by increasing the amount of time students spend in PE class, the amount of time they are active during PE classes, or the amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity they engage in during PE classes. Most studies reviewed increased the amount of physical activity during already-scheduled PE classes by changing the activities taught (e.g., substituting soccer for softball) or modifying the rules of the game so that
students are more active (e.g., the entire team runs the bases together if the batter makes a base hit). Health education was often part of the program as well.

 Physical Activity Programs for Students

Who Recommends This

Indicators and Action Plan

Why This Works


Getting Started 

Action Step 1 - ​Conduct a preliminary assessment to understand the current environment surrounding school-based PE in your school district. 

Action Step 2 - Begin organizing the human, material, and financial resources that you will need to work with schools to implement more active PE classes. 

Action Step 3 - Engage existing partners and key stakeholders by informing them about your plans to work with schools to implement more active PE classes and educating them about the benefits. 

Action Step 4 - Bring together committed partners and stakeholders in the form of a working group to create an outreach campaign for more active PE classes (and to later support schools in implementing this approach), and begin planning for the
evaluation component.

Action Step 5 - Find a champion in the school system to lead the outreach campaign. 

Action Step 6 - Develop the outreach campaign messages that will build school and community support for more active PE classes. 

Action Step 7 - Finalize the list of schools that will receive the initial outreach campaign.

Action Step 8 - Deliver the outreach campaign to school administrators, teachers responsible for PE, and students’ families to gain school support for more active PE classes.

Action Step 9 - Deliver the outreach campaign to local businesses and community organizations to raise awareness about the need for more active PE classes.

Action Step 10 - Agree on the school that will serve as the pilot location for implementing more active PE classes.


Moving Forward 

Action Step 11 - Work with the pilot school to informally assess its PE practices and to begin making plans and decisions about the implementation process.

Action Step 12 - Collaborate with the working group and pilot school to review and refine your project evaluation activities.

Action Step 13 - Assemble a team to develop the instructional practices necessary to teach more active PE classes in the pilot school.

Action Step 14 - Work alongside the champion, working group, teachers responsible for PE, and principal to obtain the necessary funding, equipment, and supplies to implement more active PE classes in the pilot school.

Action Step 15 - Inform the pilot school about training options; once training is complete, assist as needed while more active PE classes are implemented.


Looking Beyond 

Action Step 16 - Continue to assist the pilot school while you begin to promote district-wide expansion of more active PE classes. 

Action Step 17 - Publicize the success of the outreach campaign and the pilot school’s PE teachers. 

Action Step 18 - Ensure that the school district provides booster training sessions and staff development opportunities to PE teachers who have implemented more active PE classes.

Action Step 19 - Encourage the school board to pass policies requiring that schools in the district implement for active PE classes. 

  • Centers for Disease Control 
  • Partnership for Prevention