The phys-ed workout

How to Stay Active at Home: PE At Home Resources

The phys-ed workout

Wow, these are interesting times to be sure!

Coronavirus Memes are going wild, the NBA is cancelled and schools are closing all over the world and transitioning to E-Learning while students are stuck at home in quarantine.

With kids missing that recess and PE time I wanted to make sure you have some resources to keep your students (and yourself) active and healthy. 

One of the most important things you can do for you and your families mental health and physical health during this time is make sure you stay active and get at least the CDC recommended 60 minutes of activity each day. 

Check out the video below or scroll down to the links to see my favorite ideas and resources for getting active at home.

Links and resources mentioned in the video below:

No Internet? 

If you don’t have internet you can print off or take a screenshot of some of the one page workouts at, they are all free and they have workouts that focus on pretty much every part of the body as well as full body workouts, so pick one that meets your interests and goals (check out the filter option to choose specific parts of the body or aspects of fitness to focus on):

Awesome online resources:

Sworkit: Free Customizable Follow Along Kids Workouts 

  • Sign up for Sworkit and use them for follow along workouts for kids
    • They have a free kids workouts for anyone to use after signing up and they are even customizable and have student examples for all of the follow along workouts, just click on the “Kids Workouts” section after logging in
    • This is awesome because since it’s customizable you can delete activities that are too hard and replace them with easier versions – or if it’s too easy, you can replace them with more challenging activities and exercises… 

Follow Along Workout Channels on

Follow Along Dances:

 Practice or learn a popular Line Dance

  • the Cupid Shuffle for Example
  • Or the Sid Shuffle from the movie Ice Age 


If you have any of the equipment below (frisbee, ball, jump rope, balloon etc), you can practice reviewing or working on any of the skills that we’ve learned in PE class this year. 

  • Striking a Balloon (awesome activity for K-2nd Grade) 
    • Blow up a balloon and practice striking it with different items in your house (or different body parts)
    • What is the hardest item or body part to control the balloon with?  What’s your record for the most number of hits without moving your feet?
    • Here’s an example of this balloon striking activity
  • 4 Square
    • If you have a playground ball and a garage or driveway you can play a game of 2 Square with a family member, draw a court with some chalk and check out this post if you don’t have the rules to play the game 

Inspirational Character and Confidence Building Video Series: 

  • Check out the website below for a great set of inspirational videos for students to watch and have some conversations about perseverance through hard times, believing in yourself and making an impact in the world.  I think this series offers a great perspective for students.


If you’re a PE Teacher looking for some resources, below are some helpful links and resources from other Teachers that might be helpful as you embark on the journey of figuring out what online PE is supposed to look .

Have Fun and Teach On!


Category: Fitness

The phys-ed workout

Grade level: 4-8
Equipment: None or variety
Game Description: In this fitness activity, players will have fun and get sweaty through a variety of exercises. Players must first choose a partner. 1 partner goes to an exercise to start while the other starts and the end line.

On the “go” signal, half the players will be exercising for 45 seconds (or whatever time is chosen) while the other half is running back and forth from end line to end line. After 45 seconds yell “switch” and the partners switch roles. They will then cycle through the same format every 45 seconds until completing all 6 or 8 exercises.

Take a break, get a drink of water, and go again!

Grade level: 5-8
Equipment: Agility ladders, poly spots, exercise mats, other fitness equipment (optional)
Game Description: X-Circuit fitness is a fitness activity that can be done with small or large groups.

Choose ANY six fitness activities of your choice (plank, lunges, pushups, curls, jumping jacks, etc – the ideas are endless). Set-up the “X” circuit using agility/fitness ladders and poly spots, as shown.

Students will start at a certain location, spread out fairly evenly, and for 2 minutes they will run through the circuit, completing everything in a directional path chosen beforehand.

Students will go through as many times as possible in the 2 minutes (but stress that proper form and technique is more important than speed). After the 2 mins are over, a quick break – maybe 30 seconds. And then go again. Repeat as desired. Switch up time duration or fitness exercises as desired.

Grade level: 2-6
Equipment: Cones
Game Description: Rock Paper Scissors War gets you moving (and playing some R.P.S. in some fun competition). In this game, players in teams of 4 or 5 face each other at opposite ends of a gym or playing area (ex.

blue vs yellow). In front of each teams’ line about a metre out is a cone to mark where a point is scored. On the “GO” signal or whistle, the first person in each line will run towards each other until they meet – they play R.P.S.

(HINT: if they play with their sides turned towards their teammates, then they’ll be able to see and react more quickly). The loser of R.P.S. (ex. yellow) returns to the back of their line, while the winner (blue) continues running towards the opposition (yellow) cone.

By now the next person in the yellow team should be running towards the blue player advancing towards their cone. Wherever they meet they play R.P.

S… the winner continues, the loser goes to the back of their line and hopefully the next in line has reacted and is running out to meet the advancing player, etc, etc, continue, continue. Try it out and have some fun! Play for certain time, or up to a certain amount of points. (Thanks to Pete Anderson)

Grade level: 2-8
Equipment: Hula hoops, music
Game Description: In this fitness or warm-up game, hula hoops are placed around the basketball court perimeter.

Choose a direction for players to travel: clockwise or counter clockwise staying on the outside of the basketball court line. Players cannot cross through center. Once the music starts they perform the cardio exercise of the teacher’s choice: jogging, running, skipping, cross-overs, etc.

When the music stops they must get to a hoop within a few seconds. There can be as many people inside any hoop as possible, however everyone must be in a hoop. If anyone person is not standing inside a hoop, including all feet, then the entire class must do reps of a muscular exercise (push-ups for example).

Once completed, a new cardio activity is given, the music begins again and the students do the next activity, however, once the music begins and the students are moving, the instructor removes one hula hoop from the game, etc, etc, until there is only one hoop left.

At this point, give two jumping jacks per person for every one person that doesn’t make it into the hoop. And that’s fitness musical hoops!
(Thanks to Paul Ford for this game idea)

Grade Level: 5-8
Equipment: Skipping ropes, lilly pads
Game Description: In Jump Jump Fit, players will get a good fitness cardio workout. Partners will find an area and set-up in the gym. 1 player will get the skipping rope. 1 player will place down 5 lilly pads on the floor to jump in a sequence.

When groups are ready, the teacher or leader will set the timer for 1 minute and it’s go time! The player with the skipping rope will see how many skips he/she can complete in the minute. The other player will see how many reps of jumping on the lilly pads he/she can complete in the minute. After the minute, partners switch and go again.

Try adding skipping tricks or 2-foot, left-foot, right-foot jumps and switch things up.

Grade Level: 2-8
Equipment: None
Game Description: This fitness or warm-up/running game is a calling game. The caller (usually the teacher) calls out these commands:

Army: Run to one side of the gymNavy: Run to the other side of the gymHit the deck: Lie face down

At ease: Stand up

Try adding some rules such as “first one to Army gets a point” or “last one to Navy is out”. Players must be careful to wait for the “At Ease” command before getting up to run somewhere. Or add your own ideas to modify this quick physical education game to suit your needs. (Thanks to Justin for this game idea)

Grade Level: 2-8
Equipment: None
Game Description: This is a great warm-up game; it can be used in fitness, dance, stretching, or even just making goofy moves. Students form a circle around a leader who has 20 seconds to perform an action. The students must mimic the action, and then it’s someone else’s turn to be the leader. That’s it, that’s all. Simple and effective.

Grade level: 2-8
Equipment: Decks of cards
Game Description: This is a fitness building relay-style game for PE class, using decks of cards. There are 4 teams, each one representing either diamonds, spades, clubs, or hearts.

Teams will try to collect cards of their own suit by hustling to their deck and grabbing a card, one player at a time. The first team to collect all of the cards of their suit wins.

Play again and again until you can’t run anymore! Also switch up the movement style from running to an activity of choice – lunges anyone? Read More →

Grade level: 3-8
Equipment: None
Game Description: Hourglass Relay is a continuous running and cardio-building activity that gets students moving in the shape of an hourglass.

Depending on the group, you can adjust speed of the activity – slow, medium, fast. With a sports team, it might be a great sprinting activity. With a physical education class, it might be a great jogging activity or student choice for speed.

Simple yet effective. Read More →

Grade level: 1-8
Equipment: 6 cones/pylons
Game Description: A fantastic running or dribbling game with lots of positive review.

Teams will run or race on the Speedway, with players on each team taking turns cruising laps. A unique relay-style idea to get imaginations flowing and bodies moving. This is a continuous motion game with lots of room for variations.

It can be played competitively or non-competitively. Read More →


8 Strategies for Creating a Positive Fitness Experience

The phys-ed workout

How well a PE fitness program is taught increases the possibility that students become hooked on the activity.

A PE fitness activity, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad. Instead, how fitness activities are taught influences how students feel about making fitness a part of their lifestyles.

Physical educators should keep in mind that the majority of youth (unless it is a class designed for athletes) are more interested in good health than high levels of skill-related fitness.

1. Individualize Fitness Workloads

Students who often find difficulty during fitness activitties, are less ly to develop a positive attitude towards physical activity.

Strategy: Use time rather than reps and distance as the lesson objective and encourage students to do the best they can within the time limit.

2. Present a Variety of Fitness Routines & Exercises

Teaching a wide variety of  fitness activities decreases the monotony of doing the same routines week after week and increases the lihood that students will find their fitness experiences enjoyable.

Strategy:  Frequently change PE fitness activities by changing the design, music, equipment and exercises. 

3. Provide Meaningful Feedback

Teacher feedback is instrumental in the way students perceive fitness activities. Immediate, accurate, and specific feedback regarding performance encourages continued participation.

Strategy: Provide feedback in a positive manner, this feedback can stimulate youths to extend their participation habits outside the PE class. Reinforce everybody, not just those who perform at high levels. All students need feedback and reinforcement, even if they are incapable of performing at an elite level.

4. Teach Physical Skills and Fitness

Physical education programs teach skill development and fitness. Some states mandate fitness testing, which may make teachers worry that their students “will not pass.” This concern can lead to the skill development portion of physical education being sacrificed in order to increase the emphasis on teaching fitness.

Strategy: Teaching various skill-based activities such as tennis, badminton, swimming, golf, basketball, aerobics, cycling, and the will give students the tools needed to maintain fitness.  People have a much greater tendancy to participate as adults if they feel competent in an activity. Skills and physical activity go hand in hand for an active lifestyle.

5. Be a Positive Role Model

Appearance, attitude, and actions speak loudly about teachers and their values regarding fitness. Teachers who display physical vitality, take pride in being active, participate in fitness activities with students, and are physically fit positively influence young people to maintain an active lifestyle.

Strategy:  “Walk the Talk”.  It is unreasonable to expect teachers to complete a fitness routine each period, 5 days a week. However, teachers must exercise with a class periodically to assure students they are willing to do what they ask them to do.

6. Foster the Attitudes of Students

Attitudes dictate whether youths choose to participate in activity. Teachers and parents sometimes take the approach of forcing fitness on students in order to “make them all fit.

”  This can lead to resentment and insensitivity to the feelings of students. Training does not equate to lifetime fitness.

When students are trained without concern for their feelings, it is possible the result will be fit students who dis physical activity.

Once a negative attitude is developed, it is difficult to change. This does not mean that young people should avoid fitness activity. It means that PE fitness participation must be a positive and success-based experience.

Stategy:  The fitness experience must be a challenge rather than a threat. A challenge is an experience that participants feel they can accomplish.

In contrast, a threat appears to be an impossible undertaking—one where there is no use trying. As a final note, remember that whether activity is a challenge or a threat depends on the perceptions of the learner, not the instructor. Listen to students express their concerns. Don’t tell them to “do it for your own good.”

7. Start Easy and Progress Slowly

Fitness development is a journey, not a destination. No teacher wants students to get fit in school only to become inactive adults.

Strategy: A rule of thumb is to allow students to start at a level they can accomplish. This means offering the option of self-directed workloads within a specified time frame. Don’t force students into heavy workloads too soon. It is impossible to start a PE fitness program at a level that is too easy.

Start with success and gradually increase the workload to avoid the discouragement of failure and excessive muscle soreness. When students successfully accomplish activities, they learn a system of self-talk that expresses exercise behavior in a positive light. This avoids the common practice of self-criticism when students fail to live up to their own or others’ standards.

8. Encourage Activites that are Positively Addicting

Teachers want students to exercise throughout adulthood. Certain activities may be more ly to stimulate exercise outside of school. Glasser, (1985) in his book Positive Addiction suggests that if the following activity conditions are met, exercise will become positively addicting and a necessary part of one’s life.

These steps imply that many individual activities, including walking, jogging, hiking, biking, and the , are activities students might regularly use for fitness during adulthood.

Strategy: The following strategies will help students “get hooked” into physical activities:

  • The activity must be noncompetitive; the student chooses and wants to do it
  • It must not require a great deal of mental effort
  • Choose activities that can be done alone- without partners or teammates
  • Students must believe in the value of the exercise for improving health and general welfare
  • Participants must believe that the activity will become easier and more meaningful if they persist. To become addicting, the activity must be done for at least 6 months.
  • The activity should be accomplished in such a manner that the participant is not self-critical

Easily introduce fitness circuits into your class with UltraFit™ CircuitPro™ Circuit Training Packs!


Fitness Friday PE Lesson Helps Students Grow HIIT Exercise Skills

The phys-ed workout

What started as a health teacher’s mission to add more personalized physical activity to her students’ day has grown into a popular, fitness-enhancing finish to the school week.

“I knew I needed to get these kids more active than they actually were,” said Hampstead (New Hampshire) Middle School health teacher Kate Muskrat. “So I started bringing my health group down and joining the physical education classes on Fridays.”

The joint Friday sessions evolved into weekly high-intensity interval training sessions that include 75 percent of the school’s students.

 High-intensity interval training is considered one of the most time-efficient ways to exercise, a key factor for teachers with limited class time to develop impactful workouts.

Studies also show that by exercising at maximum intensity in shorter bursts, students improve their oxygen consumption while lowering resting heart rate and blood pressure.

The initiative and effectiveness of Hampstead’s Fitness Friday HIIT earned it the honor of being April’s Lesson for IHT Spirit. Designed by Muskrat and colleague Allison Rubin, the lesson was one of six winning entries in IHT’s Fall Spirit Challenge.

Fitness Friday’s Focus on Physical Education Skills

Hampstead (NH) Middle School students participate in the weekly Fitness Friday HIIT workout.

“Over the past five years, it’s evolved from playing games to only fitness activities,” Muskrat said. “They don’t play any games. It’s only life-long fitness skills that we practice on Friday.”

Each Friday, Hampstead’s health and family consumer sciences students head to the gym instead of remaining in their classrooms. Once in the gym, they join in with the physical education students and participate in a 10-station workout. Students spend one minute at each station and then have 10 seconds to move to the next station. Stations include:

  • Squat jumps
  • Pushups
  • Crunches
  • Planks

Depending on the time of day, the circuit can include anywhere from 12 to 70 students, so Muskrat eliminates downtime by creating secondary exercises for students who might have to wait their turn.

“They are moving the entire time,” she said. “The kids get the most out bang for the buck the amount of time we have them for. Sometimes we repeat stations. Sometimes we add stations. We’re doing line drills or something along those lines. There is never downtime.”

As the Fitness Friday format evolved from simply joining in with the P.E. students to today’s HIIT workout, Muskrat’s taken her cues from how engaged her classes are with each type of activity. Student engagement spiked when she introduced the HIIT circuit, especially among students who struggle with fitness.

“This seems to be what works the best with what we’re trying to get the kids,” she said. “This tailors to an individual’s needs instead of some of the other things we’ve tried. It’s all about them. It’s personalized high-intensity interval training.”

Teaching Individuals to find PE Success

At first, Fitness Friday included weight-training exercises or running, but Muskrat didn’t the results. By moving to a circuit and mandating that students simply “do their best,” she knew she’d found a high-intensity interval workout that would benefit all her students.

Hampstead health teacher Kate Muskrat

“This just seems something that allows everyone to achieve greatness,” she said. “Even if they’re only holding the plank for 10 seconds, maybe at the beginning of the year they were only holding it for 5. That’s a gain. All we ask them to do is to do their best.”

Students work all year on determining what their “best” is and how they can improve it, Muskrat said. This year she’s incorporated IHT Zone wrist heart rate monitors into the Fitness Friday sessions. Students wear the Zones during the HIIT circuit and can see if the effort they are giving is enough to reach their target heart rate zones.

“We definitely see a difference because they can see where they’re at and they realize whether they can give more or not,” Muskrat said.

At the beginning of each year, students design their own “personal fitness packet” that teaches them about goal-setting and developing a fitness plan. Throughout the year, they measure progress the goals they set and the improvements they see during specific assessments. The more athletic students see the Fitness Friday benefits when they try out for the team sport of their choice.

“For most of them, they really see the benefit to this when they are trying out for their individual sport,” the teacher said. “‘Oh, the stuff we do in Fitness Friday is meaningful.’”

For the students, success means meeting a goal or improving a time. Muskrat, though, measures Fitness Friday’s success by the students’ grasp of the bigger picture.

“More than anything else, I want them to get the concept of setting personal goals,” Muskrat said. “This will help them show growth in themselves and let them be able to set goals for themselves and be able to attain them. The ability to set short-term goals and achieve them is the most essential thing they can accomplish.”

Students Create Individual PE Workout Programs

A student waits to begin a Fitness Friday HIIT kettlebell station.

In health and family consumer science classes, students learn about nutrition, heart rate, musculature and other elements of healthy living. Once they’ve been through the combined health and physical education curriculum, students are able to craft a workout plan that can serve them when they exercise on their own.

“They’ll go to a gym on their own and realize they already know how to make a workout plan for themselves,” she said. “A lot of times, people don’t realize these kids have that ability because of what we learn in this class. They can go to a gym. They can set up a workout. They know their muscles. They know what to do to enhance their strength for softball versus track versus a wrestler.”

Muskrat’s passion for physical education began when she herself was a middle schooler. Her eighth-grade P.E. teacher at St. Mary’s School in Franklin, N.H. – Mrs. Reynolds – inspired her, and she’s tried to inspire students ever since.

“I looked up to her,” Muskrat said. “I thought she was a wonderful person and I thought I really wanted to do that someday. The message she got across to me kind of spoke to me and I was kind of passionate about it.”

Muskrat’s served primarily as a health teacher for the last 17 years, ever since a colleague pointed her in that direction to fill a need, but she’s never been too far from her first teaching love, physical education. Maintaining that connection, she said, drove her to create Fitness Friday at Hampstead.

“I’m in a really cool situation because I teach both here,” she said. “Fitness Friday is the one constant for me.”

Seeking IHT Spirit System information?


Our Favorite Virtual P.E. Resources to Keep Students Moving at Home

The phys-ed workout

The CDC recommends that children and adolescents ages 6 to 17 years do 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily.

But what to do if you’re stuck indoors? We’ve got you covered with this list of amazing virtual PE resources that can help you find ways to bust some moves in the great indoors.

Below find our top virtual P.E. streaming videos, apps, and lesson plans.

Just Dance 

Dancing is one of the easiest ways to get your body moving … and grooving. As kids follow the moves on this -based dance challenge, they won’t even realize the’’re getting in a great cardio workout. Plus Just Dance features all their fave musical artists.  

Cosmic Kids Yoga

Stretch, bend and get movin’ with the Cosmic Kids Yoga channel, where you’ll find 10-20 minute guided yoga workouts for preschool to elementary school-aged kids. Kids will love striking poses in outerspace, underwater, on the farm and more! You can also stream episodes on Amazon Prime Video. 

The Body Coach 

The Body Coach is a popular channel that features free, easy-to-follow, at-home workouts for everyone, including kids. Get fit no matter your fitness level with these active, engaging 5-8 minute videos.

Joe Wicks also revealed to his followers that he will be starting online PE lessons during the school closures. The videos will start on Monday and run through till Friday on his channel. “It’s called PE with Joe.

It’s a workout specifically designed for kids because when the schools are closed there is no PE.”

The Kids Coach

A place for fitness, workouts, and wellness … just for kids. Need a simple way to get your kids moving? Simply choose the age category, press play and stream to any device. Find over 100 sessions categorized by age group.

Coach Josh Kids Fitness

Preschoolers can practice balance and coordination while also practicing everything from colors to numbers to the ABC’s in Coach Josh’s fun workout show, streaming now on Amazon Prime Video. 


Get fit with a little monkey business! Moovelee is an animated monkey that leads 4-10 minutes workout videos for kids ages 3-5. With a focus on meditation, yoga, and cardio, Moovelee will get your kids moving.

Kids’ HIIT Workout

This 30-minute-long exercise video is the perfect excuse to get moving along with your kids. HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a workout that combines intense bursts of exercise and short, active recovery periods. Think marching, jumping jacks and squats. No equipment needed! Just put on a pair of athletic shoes and press play.

Kidz Bop Dance Along

Dance to the beat of rated-G versions of popular songs Thank U, Next, Señorita and Old Town Road. 

Simply Soccer: Soccer Drills You Can Do Indoors

Take advantage of time spent indoors by honing your soccer skills! Simply soccer’s seven-minute video shows you how to work on some fancy footwork skills from the comfort of home.

Karate for Kids

Who wants to be a ninja? Join Abbey Manser on her channel to learn basic karate skills for kids. 

Nike Training Club

This app features free 15-, 30-, and 45-minute workouts designed by expert Nike trainers, and will be a great fit for the sport-playing middle or high schooler looking to keep in tip-top shape at home.  

Sworkit Kids App  

The Sworkit Kids app makes it easy to create and tailor workouts that fit your kid’s age, ability, and fitness level. Kids can count on building strength and agility as they’re guided by app through an interval-style workout that mixes targeted exercises with fun challenges, making exercise feel more a game than a must-do. 

I Am Love: Kids’ Yogaverse

As your kids strike each of the thirteen yoga poses and breathing techniques featured in this yoga-focused app, they’ll gain flexibility and strength. They’ll also be more centered and calm thanks to soothing music. 

Dance with Debbie Allen

Get up—and get down—with actress, dancer and choreographer Debbie Allen. The Fame star will be offering free classes on Instagram Live throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Follow her on Instagram @therealdebbieallen to find out when the next live video will pop up!

GoNoodle Kids

Teachers love to use the Go Noodle Kids app to get kids moving in the classroom. Interactive videos combine movement with mindfulness, helping kids center themselves for learning. The modules are short, making GoNoodle ideal for kids that need a quick energy boost through exercise.

Gopher Sport

Gopher,  the go-to source for P.E.

teachers, has gathered useful blog articles and two at-home lesson plan options for any parents looking to add education to their home learning curriculum: SPARKhome features free, wellness-focused K-12 PE lesson plans (3 weeks of materials for K-2, 3-6, middle school and high school). Dynamic PE ASAP has free lesson plans with both in-home and backyard activities that will get kids active STAT. 

Carone Learning

For students Carone Learning offers cFitness Academy, an accredited online school specializing in health and fitness for students.

Sanford fit

Looking for movement ideas for the classroom? Sanford fit has hundreds of free resources— brain breaks, lessons, and videos—to help kids make healthy choices inside and outside of the classroom.

Shape America

Free PE activity ideas, classroom resources. and physical activity calendars are available for download!

Plus, check out 10 ways to encourage fitness and healthy living in tweens and teens. 


Gym Class Is So Bad, Kids Are Skipping School to Avoid It

The phys-ed workout

The results of Packham’s paper on the Fitness Now program support the basic takeaway that the design of P.E. courses is what’s most consequential, and they hint at two interconnected factors that experts suggest tend to undermine the impact of such curricula.

For one, P.E. programs often rely on a superficial notion of gym class—conceiving of physical activity as little more than a timed run around the track, for example, or a game of kickball—and this results in worse offerings.

And then, when students feel forced to take these basic offerings, they may resent the classes more than they would otherwise.

“Older kids have already formed these important eating and exercising habits, and changing their daily decisions is more complicated than just providing money for jump ropes,” Packham says.

Despite greater recognition of the academic benefits of physical activities—including guidelines from agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stressing that kids should get at least an hour of such activities a day—schools began to deprioritize P.E. about two decades ago, and the cuts have persisted in many cases, suggests Kohl.

Accompanying this shift has been a movement away from casual activities such as recess, which experts argue is one of the more effective means of promoting children’s physical health.

An immense body of research demonstrates the positive benefits of increased recess time, which schools started to cut after No Child Left Behind was signed into law, because of the policy’s emphasis on academic subjects such as reading and math.

Justin Cahill, a veteran P.E. educator who’s taught at an Atlanta-area private school for the past decade or so, stresses that it’s the typical application of physical education rather than the fundamental concept that results in bad outcomes. Until the past few years, P.E.

classes tended to focus on kids’ acquisition of skills, such as dribbling a ball, and the fulfillment of universal benchmarks, such as the ability to run around a track three times within some specific amount of time. This approach, he says, “breeds stagnation and disinterest—the kids are , ‘Yeah, this is ridiculous.

’” It can also, as Packham’s study suggests, breed resentment: After all, in this “old school” version of P.E., certain kids are bound to struggle.

Read: Why kids need recess

Cahill maintains that many P.E. programs are high caliber, successful in both engaging students and producing positive health and wellness outcomes.

Echoing the findings outlined in Kohl’s book, he says that positive results are contingent on a multifaceted and holistic design—what he defines as programs that inspire children to exercise without realizing they’re exercising, that simply ensure they’re constantly moving, during recess, frequent “brain breaks” to get out “the sillies,” morning jogs, and, yes, regular P.E. class. Positive results are also contingent on experienced, empathetic P.E. teachers—those who know to modify a curriculum to meet a certain student’s needs, and to give kudos to that child who can’t run around the track. After all, research shows that people can get a good workout even when walking, and the more important thing is to create a healthy relationship with exercise that can last for decades.

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The phys-ed workout

The phys-ed workout

Source: Web exclusive, June 2010

Remember phys ed? The exercises you did on the school’s sports field weren’t just for fun’they also gave you a great full-body workout. If you’re looking for a new way to shake up your fitness routine, try exercising a kid again. These phys-ed inspired moves are great for building cardiovascular endurance and increasing agility, coordination and strength.

For the full workout, perform two sets of each exercise (10 repetitions is one set), resting for 10 seconds between sets. Follow up with a 15-minute jog to get the full P.E. experience. Need a coach? Watch the videos to see how each move is properly executed.

1. High knees

Nothing warms up the body and gets the blood flowing a good old-fashioned high-knee run. From a standing position, start slowly by lifting each knee, alternating, to hip height.

Gradually pick up the pace to a light jog, pushing off with the ball of the foot and landing with heels down. Arms are bent and relaxed, hands are held in a loose fist (not clenched).

Be sure to keep knees high throughout.

Variation: Increase the heat and power by punching arms above the head.

2. Burpees

The burpee is a dynamic full-body blaster that incorporates strength and cardio in one exercise, Standing with feet hip-width apart, drop down to a squat and place both hands flat on ground just in front of you.

Jump your feet back to fully extend your legs parallel to the floor, moving into a push-up position. Hands are under your shoulders, core is firm and hips are down.

Next, jump legs forward, back to original squat position and stand up. Repeat.

Variation 1: To decrease intensity, legs may be walked back individually when moving into push-up stance.

Variation 2: To make the move more intense, add a hop after moving into standing position.

3. Jump rope

Scorch maximum calories with this schoolyard favourite’but make sure your technique is more boxer-in-training than little-girl-in-the-playground. Firmly grasp each handle of the rope, palms facing forward at hip height, rope resting behind feet.

Swing rope overhead and push off with the ball of the right foot. Bring rope around again and push off with the left foot. With each rotation, focus on your feet landing quietly, with a singular bounce.

Circling the wrists very quickly will allow a smooth gate.

Variation: Try hopping on one foot for an eight count, then switching sides.

4. Crab walk

This fun and funny-looking exercise gets your heart revving while using body-weight resistance to engage your core as well as your upper and lower body. Sit with your hands placed approximately six inches behind your glutes, fingers are facing towards your body.

Feet are flat on ground and knees are bent and positioned a bit wider than hip-distance apart. Keeping shoulders away from the ears, lift hips up off the ground to a low tabletop position. Start by walking right arm and left leg back then follow with the opposite side. Crab walk eight paces back, then eight paces forward.

Make sure to keep your core engaged to protect your lower back.

Variation: Engage muscles laterally by moving sideways to the left and right.

5. Floor jacks

This variation on the standing jumping jack builds stamina and strengthens your core. Start in a push-up position with your body long, hips low, and shoulder blades relaxed down your back. Then jump legs out into a wide ‘v.’ Next, hop legs back to starting position, creating a supported prone jumping jack. Repeat.

Variation: Ratchet this exercise into high gear by pulling legs towards the upper body from a push-up position, into a hand braced squat. Concentrate on using abdominals to pull lower limbs towards upper body. Next, jump knees back to starting position.

6. Sprint drills

Channel your inner competitive athlete with this high-intensity training practice. Choose three landmarks in an open area (three fence posts, for example). Each landmark should be about 10 meters apart from each other in a straight line.

Sprint to the first landmark, stop and touch the ground, turn around and race back to your starting point. Brake at the original start point, touch the ground again and repeat the drill to the second landmark.

Repeat until you’ve sprinted to each of your three landmarks.

Tip: Keep a steady pace with this leg strengthening, cardio-fuelled exercise.

Rory Lindo is a certified fitness instructor based in Toronto.

Videos recorded using a flip video camcorder.

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