More than 70,000 students in Utah’s second largest school district are participating in more and better physical activity, decreasing absenteeism and increasing academic performance.
The Davis School District, Utah’s second largest school district, with over 70,000 students, started the Healthy Bodies, Healthy MindsExternal pilot program in 2012 to assess the impact of increases in physical activity breaks during the school day.
All students and faculty participated in 15 minutes of physical activity in the morning and 10 minutes of physical activity after lunch. This physical activity time was in addition to regularly scheduled recess and physical education classes. An initial assessment revealed a decrease in student tardiness and absences and increased academic performance among students. While other factors may have also contributed to these improvements, an important factor was providing students with opportunities to be physically active during the school day.
The program is now expanding to 13 schools in the district, affecting about 6,500 students. The Utah Department of Health has partnered with the Utah State Office of Education to spread the message about the Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds model and to get buy-in from teachers so physical activity will increase throughout Utah schools. In addition, a professional learning series related to physical activity is now available statewide and builds on the schools’ use of CDC’s Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program and School Health Index.