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In-Class Physical Activity Breaks — Good For Mind and Body

Get up and move during class — taking a break for physical activity may help with some factors of student success in school!i In this Play, you will encourage all students to get active by adding short physical activity breaks during classes every day. Whether you and the school's teachers choose stretching, jumping jacks, workout videos, or dance breaks, you can get everyone motivated to move more throughout the day. Excite students even more by having those with smart phones download the Play 60 App!


Here's a quickstart guide to get you started! 

Why This Play?

What to Do

What to Do

  • There are three main steps to this Play: get organized, pilot test your program and implement it in the whole school. Read about what to do and then review Who Can Help? and Build Interest to get more information and help.


    Step 1: Get organized.


    Build a team made up of students and PE teachers, your school wellness committee and others to brainstorm short, easy activities that can be done in class without equipment. Use your ideas and those of your student team to get people moving in a fun and creative way without taking up a lot of time. This set of in-class activity breaks can help.


    Step 2: Pilot test your program.


    • Enlist a few teachers to try out your plan by joining the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge — a program that inspires kids to get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day in school and at home — and tell other teachers how it went.


    • Have teachers add to student experiences by immersing them in a series of dynamic virtual experiences that offer in-school and at-home physical activity breaks designed to inspire kids to get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day. These virtual field trips provide teachers and students with an exclusive behind-the-scenes pass to exciting state-of-the-art locations that bring critical topics to life. Standards-aligned companion activities encourage students to explore key themes more deeply in school and at home. Click here to access the free digital resources.


    • Build opportunities for student leadership. Arrange for volunteers from your Fuel Up to Play 60 team to visit classrooms to lead in-class breaks and work with students who may need assistance or confidence building.


      • Encourage them to be sure all students are included.


      • Have teachers ask different students to lead the breaks each day and come up with ideas for routines they would like to try.


    Step 3: Build out the program to the whole school.


    • Work with your school administration to set up times during the week when the whole school participates.

    In Class Activity Breaks - Take Action Video

    Click to view

    Credit: Fuel Up to Play 60


    • Look for other opportunities to get students active at various times during the day.



    Optional Extra

    Think outside the box. Lots of offices and other workplaces are transitioning to the use of “stand-up desks.” In schools, although it’s not a physical activity, it is another way to get students out of their seats! Some Fuel Up to Play 60 schools have already tried it. Consider this story from a middle school in Miami, Florida, or this example from Ridgely Elementary School in Illinois.


    stand up desks Greco Middle School

    Greco Middle School

Who Can Help?

Who Can Help?

  • You are not in this alone. There are many people who can help make this Play a success. For this Play, you’ll need to convince teachers and the principal that including in-class physical activity breaks can be done without taking away from the learning environment. Meet with them first to talk about the goals of the Play and what seems most “doable” in your school. Here’s a list of people who can help with this Play and some specific ways they can do that.


    Who Can Help

    What They Can Do


    • Approve your plan and encourage teachers to adopt it
    • Allow music to be played over the school announcement system (if the whole school is participating)


    • Participate in the Play
    • Model the physical activities for students in the classroom


    • Participate in the in-class activity breaks
    • Encourage peers to participate


    • Visit classrooms and participate in physical activities
    • Volunteer to help with classroom activities


    As with any game that’s worth playing and winning, you are bound to run into challenges. That's why getting help from others is so important. You’ll be more likely to achieve your goals when everyone works together.

Build Interest

Build Interest

    • Make your case. Your first job is to get your principal and teachers to say yes! Have your student team present them with information about how a short burst of physical activity can help students get focused and ready to learn without disrupting the learning day. vii viii ix


    In Class Activity Breaks - Brand Awareness

    Click to view
    Credit: Fuel Up to Play 60


    • Use the tools and resources below (especially the ideas in More Information on This Topic below) to create a short presentation that will help you make your case.


      • Have students work with some friends or Fuel Up to Play 60 teammates to create a video you can show to teacher, parents or community groups.


      • Remember to emphasize that short bursts of physical activity can help students get up to half of their recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day — for example, if done in five-minute increments at the beginning or end of each hour in the school day, this adds up to 30 minutes over the course of the day (not including PE class).


      • Introduce teachers to this CDC resource, Integrate Physical Activity in Schools: A Guide for Putting Strategies into Practice (November 2018). It has tons of information and a planning template to help teachers think about how best to integrate physical activity with their teaching.


    • Get moving with the NFL Play 60 app! Work with a group of students to download the PLAY 60 app and, if possible, project it on a classroom screen.


      Play 60 App


      • Consider playing new games together as a class to inspire your peers to Play 60.


      • Students can compete in fun games with a football twist! There’s TAG, Red Light! Green Light! and special opportunities to earn PLAY 60 points by going on a family walk, riding bikes or playing in the park.


      • Plan the app physical activities you will share with classrooms as you implement this Play!

    vii  Do Short Physical Activity Breaks in Classrooms Work? A Research Brief. Princeton, NJ: Active Living Research , a National Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; February 2013. Accessed January 21, 2019.

    viii Jensen, E., Moving with the Brain in Mind. 2000. Educational Leadership. ASCD. Accessed January 21, 2019.

    ix The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance. 2010. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed January 21, 2019.

Share Your Results

Share Your Results

    • Promote individual classroom successes with students and teachers by putting up signs that explain how the idea of classroom breaks works and what’s happening as a result.


      • Make morning announcements that highlight some classes that are participating.


      • Get the word out on your school’s website or blog, in your school newsletter and student newspaper and on social media!


      • Share student stories, videos and pics on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram tagging FUTP 60 (FB: @FuelUpToPlay60; TW and IG: @FUTP60) and using #Play60 #FuelGreatness!


    • Get feedback. Ask students to choose their favorite activities. Take a poll or ask students to leave feedback for your team in a comment box in the PE office. Ask teachers about what works best for their classes. Don’t forget to ask students if the program is getting them to change their habits outside of school, too.


    See how Southside Middle School is spreading the word about their experience with this Play, and get some ideas of your own!


    Activity Breaks _Meredith_Spread the Word

    Click to view

    Credit: Fuel Up to Play 60


    Encourage student leadership. Students know everyone should get 60 minutes of physical activity every day, but do they? Have your team do their best to help their peers reach their daily quota while staying active themselves. Have them work as a team to figure out activities that can motivate students to get up and move. Push-ups? Jump rope? Dance contests? There’s something for everyone!


    Scrimmage Time

    Encourage friendly competitions between teachers and classes to see which classrooms can get 100% participation. Have classes share their favorite activity ideas with other classes. Hold a school assembly and let classes take the stage to show what short activities they love to do.



    Think long term. It is important to get buy-in from the whole community to really ingrain this program in your school. Take your video on the road to get parents and community members involved as activity volunteers!


    • Think about starting with lower grades first and adding a new grade level each week.


    • Talk to the PE team about reinforcing the idea during PE classes and modeling some easy-to-do activities for students so they can do them when they get back to the smaller space in the classroom.


    • Here is an easy activity that can be used at the beginning of the year in particular, but helps students get some low-level activity while also getting to know one another better. (Note that the ball in this linked activity is available for purchase [while supplies last], but a playground ball and a Sharpie™ work just as well.)


  • This section features ideas on ways to involve everyone in your school and community. Think about ideas for differentiating between older and younger students and ways to bring in the family connection.

    Build student leadership opportunities. As much as possible, have students do the planning and run your programs.


    For Older Students

    • After building some interest, have students survey their schoolmates for ideas of activities they think could be done in the classroom. Hold demonstration events in the cafeteria with music and offer prizes for the three most popular activity ideas.


    For All Students

    • Have students host a series of short activity breaks in the cafeteria at lunchtime. Have them survey their peers to see what they think would be fun — a dance competition (get teachers involved!), a jump-rope speed competition or other things.


    • Think about ways to get more people active. For the jump rope example, make it a challenge to see who in your school can do better than this! Challenge all students to do something “outside the box,” showing everyone that any fun activity is just that — fun!


    • Help students with smartphones download the NFL PLAY 60 app to get them active and moving! They can take real steps to move in the game, earn special Play 60 points and unlock cool NFL gear to customize their own PLAY 60 avatar.


      move body


    Check out The Huddle to see what this school team did when they wanted to get this Play off the ground.


    Put students in the driver’s seat as much as possible. They’ll learn valuable life lessons on how to plan and implement programs, and they’ll feel great about helping their school!


    For Everyone


    Promote the plan at home. Make sure parents know about this Play and encourage students to continue the idea at home. Take a quick break during homework or chores, or get the whole family moving for a few minutes each day before or after mealtime!


    Everyone can:

    • Come up with activity ideas.
    • Create interesting posters and announcements to spread the word.
    • Talk about fun activities with friends and classmates to get them on board.
    • Remind teachers that classroom-based physical activity has been linked to indicators of academic performancex and that physical activity can be added to the curriculum and may help students stay on task during class.xi
    • Work with local businesses to donate resources.
    • Use these ideas on how to adapt activities to include all students.



    Build Local Community


    Invite parents, community members and local business personnel to come to school once a week to participate in your classroom activity events.


    • These visitors can show students that they are committed to physical activity AND that they want the same for the kids.


    • Many businesses encourage their employees to participate in community volunteer activities. By spreading breaks out over one class period, one volunteer can go from classroom to classroom and work with multiple teachers. When the volunteer arrives, students know it’s time to get up and move!


    Help Build the Whole Fuel Up to Play 60 Community

    Encourage students to log on to their Dashboard and report activity to achieve Level Three (30,000 Points) and be named a Fuel Up to Play 60 Student Ambassador! Having ambassadors at your school might help get more students involved!


    Homefield Advantage : Check out this resource and share it with parents so they can see how they can help at home and at school.


    x The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance. 2010. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed January 21, 2019.

    xi Do Short Physical Activity Breaks in Classrooms Work? A Research Brief . Princeton, NJ: Active Living Research, a National Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. February 2013. Accessed January 21, 2019.

Why This Play?

Warm-Up Activity Idea!

Not quite ready for the full Play? Try this.

Work with one or two classroom teachers to pilot the program. Make videos of students participating and having fun.

Experiment with doing the breaks before, during, or after a lesson to see what works best. Then show the video to other teachers and classes to build interest!

Funding and Outfitting Your Play

Things That Might Help

  • Jump ropes, kettle bells, hand weights, yoga mats, hula hoops, rubber stretch bands, mini-trampolines
  • Indoor or rainy day recess boxes
  • Activity CDs or DVDs

Funds for Fuel Up to Play 60

Up to $4,000 per year is available to qualified K-12 schools enrolled in Fuel Up to Play 60 to kick-start positive changes!

General Information and Application


note Remember to keep your eye on FuelUptoPlay60.com for special opportunities!


More Funding Opportunities


Check with local retailers to see if they will help create classroom activity break “kits.” Perhaps they have a matching program in which your school purchases half of what you need to get each classroom moving and your retail partner donates the other half. Check out these two videos showing how a simple a kit for upper and lower grades can be.

Fuel Up to Play 60 provides this information as a courtesy. It does not imply an endorsement of the websites, organizations, or all information provided thereby. Fuel Up to Play 60 cannot attest to the accuracy of information provided through links. You will be subject to the destination site's privacy policy and terms of use when you leave this website.