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Physical Activity: Classroom-based Physically Active Lesson Interventions

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This is a brief summary of the CPSTF finding and systematic review evidence for Physical Activity: Classroom-based Physically Active Lesson Interventions. Read a complete summary of the systematic review and CPSTF Finding and access a list of suggested guidelines and toolkits.

This information is also availble in a PDF version pdf icon [PDF - 536 KB].

Summary of Community Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation

The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) recommends classroom-based physically active lesson interventions to increase physical activity and improve educational outcomes.

Major Findings

The CPSTF recommendation is based on evidence from 42 studies included in a systematic review published in 2020.1 Evidence showed interventions lead to the following student outcomes: A young girl stands in front of a chalkboard with a barbell drawn on it.

  • Increased time spent in moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity over the school day
  • Improved lesson-related educational outcomes
  • Improved measurements of student attention to lesson content

What are Classroom-based Physically Active Lessons?

Teachers integrate bouts of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity into lessons taught inside or outside of the classroom. Active lessons are scheduled every day or several times per week and typically last from 10 to 30 minutes. Interventions include training for teachers and may include access to integrated lesson plans and web or video resources designed to engage students in exercises and dance routines.

Why is This Important?

  • Regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence improves strength and endurance, helps build healthy bones and muscles, helps control weight, improves cognitive function, reduces risk of depression, and may improve cardiovascular health.2
  • Less than one-quarter (23%) of children 6 to 17 years of age participate in 60 minutes of physical activity every day.3
  • Schools may help students attain the nationally recommended 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily.4

Learn More

CDC, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity External Web Site Icon

CDC, Healthy Schools, Classroom Physical Activity External Web Site Icon

References

1 Norris E, van Steen T, Direito A, Stamatakis E. Physically active lessons in schools and their impact on physical activity, educational, health and cognition outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2020;54:826-38.

2 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2018.

3 The Child & Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI). 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health. Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health;2016. Available at URL: www.childhealthdata.org/browse/survey.

4 US Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2018.


Established in 1996 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) is an independent, nonfederal panel of public health and prevention experts whose members are appointed by the director of CDC. CPSTF provides information for a wide range of decision makers on programs, services, and other interventions aimed at improving population health. Although CDC provides administrative, scientific, and technical support for CPSTF, the recommendations developed are those of CPSTF and do not undergo review or approval by CDC. Find more information at www.thecommunityguide.org.