During the academic year, children spend nearly half their waking hours at school. Comprehensive school-based physical activity and nutrition programs can help students live healthier lives. For many children, schools provide their only access to healthy foods and a safe place for physical activity.

Active Living in Schools

Children and adolescents should spend 60 minutes a day being physically active.  Comprehensive
school-based physical activity programs can help students meet most of their physical activity needs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), physical activity can affect academic achievement.  For example:

  • Elementary school girls who participated in more physical education had better math and reading test scores than girls who had less time in physical education.
  • Physical activity can help students improve concentration, memory, and classroom behavior.

Schools can improve physical activity by providing:

  • Quality physical education
  • Daily recess
  • Physical activity breaks
  • Intramural sports
  • Interscholastic sports
  • Walk and bike-to-school programs

Learn More:

CDC Healthy Schools
CDC Youth Physical Activity

Healthy Eating in Schools

For most American children and adolescents, school is not only a place of learning, but also a place of eating. Many students participate in the school-lunch and school-breakfast programs. Schools are in a unique position to support nutritious eating and influence the eating habits of children. By offering healthier food and beverage options schools are empowering students to make healthy choices – a skill that will benefit students long after they graduate.

Schools can support healthy eating in the following ways:

  • Develop, implement, and evaluate healthy eating policies and practices
  • Establish a school environment that supports healthy eating
  • Provide a quality school meal plan
  • Ensure students only have appealing, healthy food and beverage choices offered outside of meals
  • Employ qualified individuals for health education and nutrition services
  • Implement an education program providing students with the knowledge and skills needed to make healthy eating decisions
  • Partner with families and community members to develop healthy eating policies, practices and programs
  • Offer alternative breakfast programs, like breakfast after the bell, to improve school breakfast participation

CDC:Healthy Schools

Mental Wellness in Schools

Mental wellness impacts quality of life and a child's ability to function at home, school, and in their communities.  School health programs play a vital role in promoting healthy behaviors in children and youth. They can have positive effects on educational outcomes and help maintain physical and mental wellness.


Walking School Buses Can Improve Physical Activity and Safety

Walking and biking to school can help improve physical activity of children and parents.  Parents are often concerned with the safety of children getting to and from school. Providing adult supervision can help ease those worries for families who are within walking or biking distance to school. A Walking School Bus is a great way to […]


7th and 8th Grade Utah Students Need Art, PE, and Health

Get Healthy Utah is concerned over the Utah School Board of Education 2017 decision to eliminate the requirement for health, PE, and art in 7th and 8th grades.  The research is clear.  Health, physical education, and physical activity benefit students.  In fact, research has shown positive relationships between physical activity and academic achievement, test scores, […]


Utah Kids Need Recess

While more than 90% of elementary schools participate in regularly scheduled recess during the school day, since the mid-2000s, up to 40% of school districts nationwide have reduced or cut recess. As the nation moves to put more emphasis on the importance of standardized test scores and insisting that students need more time during the […]


Get Healthy Utah Supports the Updated Core Standards for Health Education

Health education in schools is essential to improving healthy behaviors in children. In July of 2017, the Utah State Board of Education voted to update the Core Standards for Health Education for the first time since 1997. The new standards have added lessons for kindergarten through second grade and address the following six strands: Health […]


Fuel Your Kids’ Future

Are you looking for a convenient and low-cost way to improve your child’s health?  Consider having your child eat school meals.  Research shows that kids who eat school meals eat more fruits and vegetables and have better intake of certain nutrients. Nutritious food, like fruits and vegetables and whole grains, help with brain development and […]


Utah State Board of Education Provides Best Practices for Recess

The Utah State Board of Education has provided Best Practice for Recess Guidelines. While not mandated, the guidelines support the Utah State Board of Education’s Strategic Plan Safe and Healthy Schools Goal that every student can learn in a safe and healthy school environment. Why Recess Matters Physical Activity and Obesity The CDC recommends that […]


School Meals During Statewide School Closures

To help in preventing the spread of COVID-19, Utah schools are dismissed for a soft closure until March 27th. What does this mean for school meals? On average, 50% of Utah K-12 students participate in school meals daily. Roughly one-third of students qualify for free or reduced meals. These students are at a greater risk […]


A significantly higher percentage of boys meet physical
activity guidelines than girls (23% vs. 12%).

Only 1 in 5 Utah students get the recommended
amount of physical activity each day.

As children age, their rate of physical activity
decreases (22% in 8th grade vs. 14% in 12th grade).

Nearly a quarter of high school students report eating
at fast food restaurants at least 3 times per week.

Utah Kids Need Recess!
Recess benefits students by increasing their level
of physical activity, improving memory, reducing disruptive
behavior, and improving social and emotional development.

Even though a well-nourished child who starts
the day with breakfast is more likely to be at school,
a better learner, and willing to participate in the classroom,
Utah ranks lowest in the nation for school breakfast participation.