How to ‘Spring’ Into Physical Activity During National PE & Sport Week

National PE & Sport Week (May 1-7) is just about here. And with the celebration of healthy lifestyles, active minds and bodies, let’s reflect on the importance of physical education and sports. SHAPE America’s National PE & Sport Week allows us to showcase, promote, advocate, and show off our best ideas.

We also have the excitement of the spring weather that has graced us with its presence. The sun is shining, daylight is longer, the temperature is rising, and our bodies are ready to move more. As springtime comes upon us, it is important to take full advantage of its amazing and invigorating weather.

It is time to explore what our surroundings have to offer, while maintaining our physical health. Going outside to be physically active helps increase a person’s mood, their fine motor skills, social skills, and personal well-being.

Whether you’re already active or just getting back into the swing of physical activity, it is important to incorporate your surroundings. Let’s take a look at how being physically active can improve mental and physical health and how activities can be fun for all ages.

Being Outside Does the Body Good

Staying active can lead to increased motor development, skill building, and more physically healthy bodies — and being active outside in a natural setting can improve our overall wellness.

The benefits don’t just end with a healthy body, but also social communication, higher self-awareness and self-esteem, and the appreciation of those we are around. If being physically active and socializing still isn’t enough of a benefit, let’s not forget the emotional and intellectual growth that will come from simply leaving our houses and our classrooms to see the sun shining and feel the fresh air.

Interacting with others allows us to become invested in new activities. It enhances critical thinking and promotes confidence, problem-solving skills, and adaptability to our surroundings. Being outside, being active, and enjoying time with your friends and peers is the definition of a full-body workout.

10 Ways to Become More Active Outside

Are you ready to get out there, get active this spring? Here are some tips to help you get started:

For Teachers:

  1. Advocate for more outdoor recess and field days.
  2. Take your classes outside! If possible, move your PE space to the playground or open fields.
  3. Introduce new games that are easy to learn, but fun to play. Make sure they don’t need any equipment so students can play outside of your class time. Never underestimate your ability to create and teach new games and activities.
  4. Promote local community opportunities that give students an opportunity to participate in physical activity.

For Families:

  1. Plan a family fun day outside on the weekends. Take a family walk around the neighborhood. Investigate your local area to discover state/national/local parks, hiking trails, or areas which offer river and lake activities. Explore your nearest city or town on a walking tour. Set up a backyard tailgate party full of healthy food, games, and other physical activities.
  2. Investigate local parks and recreation organizations that offer summer camps, activities, or sports teams and enroll your children in activities that interest them.
  3. Spend time with your children learning the games they learned in PE — and then play along with them. Encourage them to teach you the rules and skills of the games. Use that basketball hoop to shoot around or play a few pick-up games. Get into the backyard with the football, baseball, soccer ball, or hockey sticks. Break out those rollerblades! Organize safe street play with jump ropes, skates and bikes.

For Students:

  1. Find a group of friends and go outside to play a sport or game. Maybe even take your younger siblings with you. The more kids that play, the more fun the games will be.
  2. Create your own game with your own rules … and make it fun for everyone!
  3. Take your video games and turn them into real-life activities.

Tips for Keeping it New and Exciting

Find a group of your peers:

  • Make it a fun competition with your friends.
  • Make it a friendly competition.
  • Make new friends through movement.

Change up the games:

  • Think of a “best of five” series, with each game being different. Imagine the fun and excitement you will have playing five different games in five different days, trying to become the ultimate fitness winner. Spoiler alert! Everyone will walk away feeling better than when they started.

Show off your creativity side:

  • Revise rules from old games and change them to new and different rules to fit the new game.
  • Use equipment from one sport and incorporate it into a new sport. How much fun would it be to create a game of “football hockey”? 
  • Create new and fun rules. Think outside the box and have fun. Just make sure everyone understands the rules before playing.

Where to find more information:

  • To find local national parks, visit the National Parks Service website.
  • Search for local parks and recreation and/or sports organizations in your area.

Reach out to your local school’s physical education teacher for more information and opportunities.

Additional Resources

David Keiling

David Keiling is a graduate of West Virginia University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in PE/TE. He is currently the coordinator of Physical Education and Health Education for Manassas City Public School in Manassas, VA. He has presented at state and national conferences on unified physical activity and technology in health and physical education. Follow David on Twitter @ManassasCityHPE.