Implementation of a school-based state policy to increase physical activity*

J Sch Health. 2009 May;79(5):231-8, quiz 244-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.2009.00403.x.


Background: In 2005, the North Carolina State Board of Education updated the Healthy Active Children Policy to include a requirement that all kindergarten through eighth-grade children receive at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each school day through physical education, recess, and other creative approaches. This study describes how districts are meeting the physical activity-related portion of this policy and explores the policy implementation successes and challenges.

Methods: An online survey was conducted in summer 2007 in all school districts in the state (response rate 106/111; 95.5%). Respondents were asked to describe the implementation successes and challenges associated with including 30 minutes of physical activity in the school day. Answers were double coded, checked, and grouped into themes.

Results: The physical activity requirement was most often met through recess, physical education, classroom Energizers, and intramural sports. School districts reported numerous positive effects of the policy in elementary and middle schools. Benefits included increased student focus on studies, physical activity participation, awareness of healthy habits, alertness and enjoyment, and higher staff involvement. Implementation challenges to the policy included lack of time in the school day, teacher participation, and concerns about academics.

Conclusions: School districts reported that implementation of the policy produced many positive results for students and staff. Addressing several implementation challenges common across school districts would strengthen the ongoing success of the policy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Data Collection
  • Education, Continuing
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • North Carolina
  • Policy Making*
  • Schools*
  • State Government*