What’s Your Role?


Education Icon

What’s Your Role?


Education Icon

As a school administrator or education professional, you can help improve the health of your students, faculty, staff, and community.

The education sector can take a lead role in providing opportunities for age-appropriate physical activity in all educational settings, from preschool to college.

For example, K–12 schools can make sure their students and staff have ways to be physically active before, during, and after school as part of a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP). They can also promote safe ways for students and staff to actively commute to and from school.

Colleges and universities can promote physical activity by creating pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly campuses and adopting policies that encourage walking and biking. They can educate future professionals—not just those in health fields, but also those studying architecture, business, and community design—on the importance of walking and biking as ways to improve individual and community health.

What Can You Do?

You can use the following strategies to encourage physical activity in and around schools.

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Promote community plans and policies to design areas around schools to support safe and easy places for people to walk, bike, wheelchair roll, and be physically active.

  • Build schools within walkable or bikeable distances of homes and other places that students and staff regularly use.
  • Create pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly campuses and encourage walking and biking to and around campuses. Provide information to support these activities, such as point-of-decision prompts and wayfinding signs.
  • Join coalitions and planning processes to influence community designs and development decisions in areas around schools.

Adopt policies that make it easier for students to be physically active before, during, and after school as part of a CSPAP.

  • Adopt Safe Routes to School or similar programs that promote walking or biking to school.
  • Provide daily physical education for students in grades K–12 and daily recess for elementary school students.
  • Add opportunities for movement for students and staff as part of regular classroom activities and lessons.
  • Set up formal policies or agreements, such as shared-use agreements, that expand physical activity options for schools and communities. For example, schools can open facilities to community residents outside of normal school hours, and schools can use nearby community facilities, such as fields and parks.

Promote programs and policies that make it safe and easy to walk, bike, wheelchair roll, and be physically active.

  • Adopt worksite policies that encourage school staff to be physically active. Examples include flextime, paid activity breaks, and discounts for using off-site exercise facilities or active commute options.
  • Set up groups, buddy systems, and other forms of social support that help people walk, bike, or be active each week.

Teach relevant professionals how to promote physical activity and activity-friendly communities through their profession.

  • Train administrators and classroom teachers how to add more physical activity throughout the school day.
  • Add physical activity to higher education curricula across majors to promote interdisciplinary training.
  • Offer continuing education that promotes physical activity for relevant professionals.
Want more proven ways to increase physical activity?

Active People, Healthy NationSM has many strategies that work. Visit the website to find options that fit your needs. Look for ways to collaborate with other sectors.

Woman Teacher with young children students

What Other Organizations Are Doing

These communities are using effective strategies to increase physical activity in and around schools.

Building Activity-Friendly Schools in Minnesota
State laws that recommended minimum acreage for new schools forced communities into a one-size-fits-all approach. The result was schools that were unwalkable and unconnected to the rest of their communities. Activists across Minnesota came together to change state law to allow communities to renovate historic buildings in walkable locations instead of building new schools on large plots of land at the edge of town.

Promoting Cycling at Community Colleges in Texas and California
Texas Southmost College and Santa Monica College were recognized as Bicycle Friendly Universities for their work to promote biking. Both schools used as variety of resources to make it easier for people in the community to bike to and on campus. These efforts included providing infrastructure such as bike parking, showers and lockers, lighting and cameras, bike repair stations, and bike share options. They also promoted local bicycling events, provided bicycle-related workshops, and gave free bikes to students receiving financial assistance.

Resources to Help You

Connect with Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity