Daily physical activity may be the best medicine available at little or no cost. Studies show that if U.S. citizens were active 30 minutes per day, it would save the country 70-90 billion dollars annually. Annual health care costs for inactive adults is about $1,300.00 more per person as compared to adults who accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous activity on most days of the week. It is one of the major reasons I often speak about the need to develop positive attitudes and habits toward lifetime activity. Attitudes refer to a set of emotions and behaviors that are often the result of experiences that are positive or negative. Habits are routines of behavior that are repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsciously. It is apparent that these attitudes and habits are best developed when they start at an early age and are characterized by positive and meaningful experiences. In other words, is your teaching focused on teaching students that being active is a habit? Do you make active behavior a positive experience? Activity becomes a positive experience when kids feel they can do it without failing, that it is good for them, and that it is non-competitive.
My PE Physical Activity Pack
Gopher has created different My PE Packs and one of my favorites is the physical activity pack. It includes a foam ball, beanbag, speed rope, paddle and ball set, juggling scarves, plastic disc, sidewalk chalk, and a mesh storage bag. However, the most important piece of equipment included in this pack is a pedometer for monitoring lifetime activity. The packs contain equipment that can be easily cleaned and include many lists of individual teaching activities so students can stay physically distanced.
Motivate Students Early in the Year
One of the concerns I hear often from teachers about virtual education is student accountability. Much effort has been made by teachers to create excellent at-home lessons, but they feel they have no way to monitor whether assignments are being completed. You can be sure that compliance will be low if students feel the assignments demand high levels of skill or fitness. Students choose to avoid activities if they feel they “can’t do it.” An easy rule of thumb is to start with activity that you know your students can perform successfully. Avoid fitness activities in your beginning of the year assignments. Get students moving. Keep in mind that if students aren’t active and don’t like moving, why would they like fitness. All students can walk or ride a bike or play hopscotch, so start the year with activities that make them feel the joy of moving. After you hook them on activity, you can begin the move toward fitness.
Monitoring Activity Levels with My PE Packs
Students should learn to monitor their activity levels. Pedometers are a motivating and easy way to do it. Hand a pedometer to a student and watch them shake it, count their steps, jump up and down and generally move to see the results on their pedometer. It is amazing how much money has been spent on fitness equipment and fitness testing equipment, yet we don’t offer a pedometer for every student. Often, those teachers who have a set of pedometers only use them in PE which is great but doesn’t teach students and parents about an active lifestyle. PE is a “forced activity” environment so pedometers only reflect the activity students are required to do in class.
A much better use of pedometers is to monitor physical activity both in and out of school. The national activity guidelines for children and adolescents stipulate 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day. When students have a pedometer that measures moderate to vigorous physical activity, it becomes a measure of accountability for meeting governmental guidelines. Several teachers have had success with allowing students to take their pedometers home and monitor their out of school activity. If students are back at school, they can upload their MVPA and total physical activity each day, when they go to their PE class. If you are doing virtual PE, students can record their activity levels and report it online or by email. When you monitor physical activity and expect students to report it daily, activity soon becomes a habit and personal value. Take the first step: Get your students moving and develop positive attitudes and habits toward physical activity during the opening school days of online PE.