According to NHS guidelines, children need at least 60 minutes of exercise every day. That’s not always easy to facilitate, but with the right approach, schools can help young people to build up those active hours, which are vital in order to grow strong muscles and bones, maintain a healthy weight and instil body confidence. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to encourage exercise at school.

Encouraging activity outside lessons

How much time do pupils spend sitting at their desks? Today, 19.8% of children in their last year of primary school are obese – an unprecedented figure that needs to be taken seriously. A sedentary lifestyle isn’t healthy and can contribute to obesity, so schools should encourage their students to be active as much as possible.

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  • Break times are best spent outside, being active. If it’s really wet, the school sports building is a good alternative to the playground: offer fun activities like obstacle courses and three-legged races to encourage exercise during the lunch hour.
  • Sports clubs held at lunchtime and after school can be a great boost for children interested in a particular sport.
  • Getting enough physical activity helps children to focus on their work and perform better, as well as improving mental wellbeing. You can encourage exercise by offering outdoor learning opportunities wherever possible.


Every school must offer regular PE lessons; Department for Education guidelines stipulate at least two hours of compulsory physical education per week, with the flexibility to offer more than this if desired. These mandatory sessions are a valuable tool to help encourage exercise in young people: by instilling healthy habits early, schools can be instrumental in building a lifelong love of exercise.

Many children dislike PE, however. Those bi-weekly lessons can be a dreaded fixture for pupils who are not naturally sporty, feel the cold, or hate having to get changed in front of others. So, schools need to address these issues upfront in order to make PE a fun and enjoyable time for all.

  • Being outside is fantastic for children, but the British climate doesn’t always make it pleasant. Sheltered outdoor space, created using an extended roof canopy, can help protect pupils from the worst of the weather.
  • The changing areas in your sports building should be a warm, comfortable and private place for young people to get ready.
  • By offering a range of different activities and giving pupils choice, you’ll enable young people to feel more in control of their physical education. Schools can encourage exercise by ensuring that competitive sports are not the only activity on offer. A well-equipped sports building is vital, alongside imaginative teaching and being open to pupil feedback.

By the end of 2017, the Department for Education has promised to double the amount of funding available for PE and sport in schools. It’s a great time to consider investing in facilities to help make PE more inclusive for all pupils. If your sports facilities are limited, why not consider building a modular sports building in your school grounds?

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