School Policies That Affect Physical Activity

School policies can impact the amount of physical activity that children receive on a regular basis. Because of this, it’s important to be able to identify both barrier policies, which discourage, prohibit, or otherwise present barriers to physical activity, and supportive policies, which encourage, support, or enable physical activity opportunities.

For both supportive and barrier policies, the impact may be direct or indirect. A school policy that requires any student riding a bicycle to school to also wear a helmet is an example of a policy that directly demonstrates support of safe bicycling. In contrast, a school district policy that provides busing to all students regardless of where they live—including for those within easy walking or bicycling distance—is an example of a policy that indirectly discourages bicycling or walking to school.

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