Educating Students for a Lifetime of Physical Activity: Enhancing Mindfulness, Motivation, and Meaning

Res Q Exerc Sport. 2017 Sep;88(3):241-250. doi: 10.1080/02701367.2017.1342495. Epub 2017 Jul 25.


For many years, pedagogical scholars and physical education (PE) teachers have worked to enhance effective teaching and learning environments. Yet for some children, youth, and young adults, many of the benefits associated with a physically active lifestyle remain elusive. Enhancing programming and performance to meet physical activity goals may require moving programs beyond "effective." It will require teachers and program leaders to focus programmatic attention on strategies to actually increase students' out-of-class physical activity behavior. Transformative PE provides physical activity content within a nurturing and motivating environment that can change students' lives. It focuses on PE students' role in cognitive decision making, self-motivation, and their search for personal meaning that can add connection and relevance to physical activities. In this SHAPE America - Society of Health and Physical Educators Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport Lecture, I have synthesized the research on these topics to emphasize useful findings applicable to teachers' everyday planning and teaching. Using sport, physical activity, dance, and adventure activities as the means to an end for personal and social growth, we can meet our commitment to effective standards-based education while preparing students for a lifetime of physical activity.

Keywords: Cognition; personal meaning; physical education; self-determination theory.

MeSH terms

  • Cognition
  • Curriculum
  • Exercise
  • Formative Feedback
  • Humans
  • Mindfulness*
  • Motivation*
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Teaching
  • United States