Supporting public health priorities: recommendations for physical education and physical activity promotion in schools

Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2015 Jan-Feb;57(4):368-74. doi: 10.1016/j.pcad.2014.09.010. Epub 2014 Sep 28.


Physical activity (PA) provides numerous physiological and psychosocial benefits. However, lifestyle changes, including reduced PA opportunities in multiple settings, have resulted in an escalation of overweight and obesity and related health problems. Poor physical and mental health, including metabolic and cardiovascular problems is seen in progressively younger ages, and the systematic decline in school PA has contributed to this trend. Of note, the crowded school curriculum with an intense focus on academic achievement, lack of school leadership support, funding and resources, plus poor quality teaching are barriers to PA promotion in schools. The school setting and physical educators in particular, must embrace their role in public health by adopting a comprehensive school PA program. We provide an overview of key issues and challenges in the area plus best bets and recommendations for physical education and PA promotion in the school system moving forward.

Keywords: CRF; CSPAP; CVD; HOPE; MVPA; NASPE; National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE); PA; PE; Physical activity; Physical education; SCORES; Schools; Supporting Children's Outcomes using Rewards, Exercise and Skills; US; United States; VO(2max); cardiorespiratory fitness; cardiovascular disease; comprehensive school physical activity program; health-optimizing physical education; maximal oxygen consumption; moderate-to-vigorous physical activity; physical activity; physical education.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Child
  • Exercise* / physiology
  • Exercise* / psychology
  • Health Resources
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Physical Education and Training* / methods
  • Physical Education and Training* / organization & administration
  • Physical Fitness
  • Population
  • Quality Improvement
  • School Health Services* / economics
  • School Health Services* / organization & administration