Moving Beyond Tradition: Guidelines for Increasing Physical Activity Among Youths

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Nutrition Exercise and Health Sciences

Publication Date



The rise in obesity among youths because of a sedentary lifestyle is of special concern for physical education and health teachers (National Association for Sport and Physical Education [NASPE], 2006). With its national standards, NASPE (2004) has provided guidelines and recommendations to help reverse this trend, including providing appropriate instruction, encouraging children to engage in 30 minutes or more of physical activity per day, and ensuring that 50 percent of this activity is at a moderate-to-vigorous intensity. Physical education teachers, health teachers, and even elementary school teachers should be leading the fight against obesity and guiding “youngsters in the process of becoming physically active for a lifetime” (Graham, Holt-Hale, & Parker, 2010, p. 4)

The question all educators need to ask is whether this is happening. The physical education “hall of shame” (Williams, 1992) presented a long list of traditional games often played during recess and in physical education class. Fortunately, many games that were identified, such as Duck-Duck-Goose and Red Rover, have been phased out of current physical education programs. Yet, many schools still play these or similar games with low activity levels. Dodgeball is probably the leading example. Despite its low level of activity, ethical questionability, and liability potential (Conn & Docheff, 2005; Vail, 2001), it has managed to still thrive in schools. It is time to take another hard look at the games and activities played in schools. The purpose of this article is to provide seven guidelines for adapting physical activities, developing lead-up games, and teaching skills to maximize activity levels during physical education classes


This article was originally published in Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance