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In-Class Physical Activity Breaks

"We have engaged in physical activity breaks throughout the school year for a minimum of 15 minute breaks in each class. Teachers and students embraced the opportunity to move, refuel their energy and be able to refocus on academic tasks following these breaks."

"The great thing about this play is that it can be done every day by every student. Giving teachers the flexibility to include the activity break at a time during the school day that works best for them and their students increaes it's success. It also helps stress the importance of physical activity to help keep us healthy and focused!"

"Here at Mt. Healthy, we have an exercise time after morning announcements each morning. Our FUTP60 team picks the music and we figure out a workout routine for that song. Then our PE teacher teaches the workout to all her classes. We change the workout each month. Our PE teacher also sends out written instructions on the routine to be put on the teaher's smartboards during the workout. We love to start each day with some fun exercise!"

"The In Class Physical Activity Play worked well at Barrett Elementary school. The kids seem to enjoy taking a break during class time to exercise. We use exercise bands, exercise balls, a elliptical machince, and a recumbent bike during this particular physical adctivity play."

"This is a great idiea! We are goint to do brain breaks after morning announcements and throughout the day."

"I think this is a great idea :)"

"The H. Team (12 students from 4th, 5th and 6th grades) promoted this by making morning announcements on Fitness Fridays. The teachers were given options for in class movement, such as JAM (just a minute), deskercise, or any movement breaks in the classrooms. All teachers completed a survey and 13 of 15 increased their movement minutes in the classroom from the fall to the current time."

In-Class Physical Activity Breaks

In-Class Physical Activity Breaks

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Type of Play: Physical Activity

Subcategory: Take a Break for Health

Student Interest Areas: Physical Fitness, Public Relations, Sports

Grade Level: Elementary & Secondary

Level of Involvement: Getting Started


Encourage students to stay active by sneaking in short physical activity breaks during the school day. With guidance from your school’s P.E. teachers, have classroom teachers include 3- to 5-minute breaks for fun and creative physical activities during class.

Everyone Can:

  • Form a planning team
  • Prepare and help make a presentation to teachers and the principal
  • Provide classroom teachers with a bank of activities
  • Lead the in-class physical activity breaks
  • Promote the program with students and teachers
  • Ask for student input
  • Keep It Going:

    • Make In-Class Activity Breaks a regular part of your school day!
  • Form a team of students and P.E. teachers to brainstorm brief physical activities that can be done in class with minimum equipment. The goal of activities should be to get students and their teachers moving in a fun and creative way in order to get up to half the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity (outside of P.E. classes) during the school day.
  • Check out the Tools and Resources below for suggestions and activity ideas, plus resources you can use with teachers. 
  • Plan a presentation for classroom teachers and the principal to show how physical activity can be incorporated into regular classroom activities, as short breaks during class or as the beginning or end of class periods. Ask for their input and gain their support. See the Tools and Resources below for help preparing your presentation.
  • Share a list of physical activity suggestions. Encourage teachers to be creative and devise and share some of their own activity ideas!
  • Promote In-Class Physical Activity Breaks among students and teachers by putting up signs advertising the program and encouraging students and teachers to participate. Make morning announcements that highlight some of the activities that have taken place and that make suggestions for further activities.
  • Ask students to make comments and choose their favorite activities. Conduct a poll or have students leave comments with team members or in a “comment box” in the P.E. office.
This Play may help you meet the goals of the USDA's HealthierUS School Challenge!
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Tools that Can Help:

Playbook Polling Resources (Activity Planning Poll Questions)
This resource explains the purpose and benefits of collecting polling data. Use the ideas here, and the related customizable polls, to help you plan your Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Plays.

In-School Activity Breaks Ideas
Take a break from class, with thise ideas for three- to five-minute activity breaks in the classroom.

NFL Stretches and Calisthenics
This handout provides a list and description of stretches and strength-building activiites that can be used to warm up before any physical activity.

More from Our Teammates:

The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance
Recess can boost students’ concentration and physical activity breaks as short as 5 minutes can improve test scores, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report (2010) suggests that more time in physical education class can improve attention, concentration and test scores; it suggests physical activity clubs improve grade point average, educational goal setting and graduation rates.

A Guide to Physical Activity in Schools
This resource, from Alabama’s Action for Healthy Kids, highlights the importance of physical activity for school achievement and provides concrete suggestions for how schools and teachers can help incorporate more activity into the daily routine.

NFL PLAY 60 Challenge Resources for Teachers
The NFL PLAY 60 campaign is designed to tackle childhood obesity by getting kids active before, during, and after school. Download resources for classrooms here.

Phys Ed: Can Exercise Make Kids Smarter?
This New York Times piece (2010) references several studies that correlate physical fitness with increased brain function, increased IQ, and improved scores on tests taken following aerobic exercise of just 20 minutes.