Types of Physical Activity Breaks

Types of Physical Activity Breaks

There are a few different ways of including physical activity into the classroom. The following sections provide great tips and ideas to help you develop a plan that will work best with your students!

Classic Classroom Physical Activity Breaks

The most traditional way of implementing physical activity breaks in the classroom is to simply repeat a form of exercise. Jumping jacks, running in place, arm circles and squats are all classic examples. Consider what might work in the space you have and engage your students by asking them what they like to do.

Phantom Sports
  • On 5-10 index cards write down various sports actions (i.e. throwing a football, kicking a soccer ball, swimming, hitting a baseball).
  • Engage your students by having them pick a card from the pile to read out loud.
  • As a class, act out the activity repeatedly as a class until the next card is chosen. 
Take the Long Way
  • End your lesson a few minutes early and suggest that your students take a longer route to get to their next class. If this new route includes stairs – even better! 
Active Learning

Physical activity breaks can also be incorporated into teaching and reviewing academic content. Teachers who are short on time may consider this method, as it doesn’t require a complete break from academics but still provides students an opportunity to move around. Consider using this style in math class where a student reports out an answer and performs the corresponding number of arm circles, or when reviewing spelling words where students can squat with a correct response and balance on one foot for an incorrect response.

The Active Academics website is a great resource for incorporating physical activity into your classroom lessons.

Stretching and Mindfulness

While stretching and mindfulness are not physical activity breaks that increase heart rate, they serve equally important roles in the wellness of students. These breaks can be particularly useful before or after an exam or when transitioning between subjects. Deep breathing, silent meditation and calm stretching are just a few examples.

You may also find these techniques useful as a tool to refocus after more vigorous physical activity breaks. While useful, these are not considered physical activity breaks but are more commonly known as brain breaks.