“Physical activity and Physical Education help students build healthy bones and muscles, increases self-worth, reduces stress, and improves concentration and academic achievement, ” said Lisa Morris, Director of Public Health at DHHS. “We are very grateful to all the physical education teachers who took the time to complete this survey on behalf of New Hampshire’s children.”
The Society of Health and Physical Educators America (SHAPE) outlines national recommendations regarding physical activity in schools. Using SHAPE recommendations as guidelines, New Hampshire’s survey sought to address both structured physical education programs in schools and the integration of physical activity breaks into the classroom. Incorporating regular physical activity not only improves student health, but it has also been shown to improve academic outcomes. Additionally, participation in physical education class is associated with improved grades, higher standardized test scores, and increased attentiveness and on-task behavior.
The survey showed that all K–4 students in the State received at least 30 minutes of physical education each week, and over half of middle school students received at least 90 minutes per week. Physical activity was never withheld as behavior management in 8% of elementary, 24% of middle, and 39% of high schools.
Opportunities for physical activity in schools include before- and after-school physical activity programs, daily recess, or teachers providing physical activity breaks in the classroom. All of New Hampshire elementary schools offered daily recess, and in 77% of elementary schools, at least some classroom teachers offered breaks for physical activity.
“My thanks are extended to the physical education teachers who participated in this survey. I applaud everyone’s on-going effort to provide for students’ quality physical education programming as well as the simple joy of being active every day before, during, and after school,” said Virginia M. Barry, Ph.D., Commissioner of Education. “This report examines how much and at which grades these types of opportunities are presented. The New Hampshire School Spotlights section shows a glimpse of the many ways teachers are engaging students and staying active. Let’s keep New Hampshire students on the move for their own well-being and for all the positive benefits of an active body and active mind.”
To read the DHHS physical activity and physical education report, please visit www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/nhp/children.htm. For further information on SHAPE America’s national physical activity recommendations, please visit www.shapeamerica.org/standards/pe/.