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As a parent, you may have heard the term “daily physical activity” or “DPA.” This article will give you:

  • More information about what daily physical activity means.
  • Why it’s important.
  • How it can work in your child’s school.
  • How to support your school’s efforts to encourage kids to be more physically active in school.

What Daily Physical Activity Means 

Daily physical activity is an Alberta Education policy that requires all students in Grades 1 to 9 to be physically active for at least 30 minutes daily in activities organized by the school. One of the goals of DPA is to help students develop active, healthy lifestyles.
Daily physical activity should:

  • Include different activities (of different intensities).
  • Consider each student’s ability.
  •  Use resources within the school and the larger community.
  • Allow students to have a choice in the physical activities offered.

(Source: www.education.gov.ab.ca/educationguide/PDF_files/GuidetoEd.pdf, p. 44.)

Why Daily Physical Activity is Important

The Canadia Physical Activity Guidelines recommend children and youth should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily. Being active for 30 minutes a day at school covers half of the activity kids need. (The remaining 30 minutes can be logged at home or in the community in either organized activity or free play time.)
Active children are more likely to:

  •  Feel better about themselves and their physical ability (and cope better with stress).
  •  Do better in math, reading and memorization.
  •  Be more creative and ready to learn.

Children who have participated in physical education during the school day are also more likely to be active in their leisure time.

How Daily Physical Activity Can Work in Your Schools

Many schools find that daily physical activity works best when it’s a scheduled event each day. It’s also a good idea to make daily physical activity part of a comprehensive plan that includes healthy food choices and education about physical activity and healthy eating and should involve both the home and community.

Each school can implement daily physical activity in ways that meet its unique needs. Below are two examples of ways to implement daily physical activity.

  • Middle School (Grades 6 to 8). Children have physical education every other day for 51 minutes. On days when physical education is not scheduled, students do 30 minutes of activity around the school; such as activity stations created in hallways, foyers, classrooms that students circulate through over a 30-minute period. A committee of students helps to decide the activities and also helps to set up and take down equipment.
  • Elementary (Kindergarten to Grade 6). Teachers are provided with activity kits to use with the class outside.  Children have physical education every day for 35 minutes. A lead teacher demonstrates activities at each staff meeting. Parent volunteers help to create colour-coded lesson plan cards from the lead teacher’s activities that are distributed to all staff who teach physical education.

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How You Can Support Daily Physical Activity

Physical activity helps kids to learn better and stay healthy at school, in the community and at home. As a parent, you can support daily physical activity by encouraging effective daily physical activity at your child’s school and by being active at home. You can support daily physical activity in the following ways:

  • Ask your school principal how daily physical activity works in your child’s school and encourage your child to participate in activities organized through the school.
  • Encourage the parent council to support daily physical activity by helping to provide equipment, resources and professional development.
  • Encourage communication of  information about physical activity to parents and families.
  • Complete the daily physical activity triangle (home, school, community) by being physically active yourself and being active with your kids at home and in the community.

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Learn more:

Daily Physical Activity School Resources
This Alberta Education site provides access to a downloadable DVD that will help you understand why DPA is important in your school.  As well, there is a DPA Handbook that includes activities and implementation strategies for Alberta schools.

Ever Active Schools
Ever Active Schools gathered information from eight model schools about how they implemented daily physical activity. Each sample includes different information about the schools’ populations, timetables and challenges and solutions.

Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines
Physical activity guidelines and information for children and youth as well as adults.

Daily Physical Activity in Ontario
Ontario recently implemented a daily physical activity initiative. Download the school handbook.

Physical and Health Education Canada
This website includes advocacy materials for parents and questions to ask staff at your child’s school.

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