Teachers' resources

Teach health & physical education using the environment

In December 2001 U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher released a report decrying the deplorable physical condition into which we Americans have slid. Today, more than ever, it's critical that we teach children to pursue and enjoy physical activity and good health.

The good news is, healthy kids and a healthy environment are closely intertwined. Efforts to help children understand and appreciate the natural environment often involve physical activities. Environmental education in areas such as water and air quality form a natural bridge to discussions of personal and public health.

At the same time, physical education and health classes can readily incorporate environmental education. In physical education, we can explore activities such as hiking, orienteering, bicycling, archery, and skiing that offer both opportunities to stay fit and incentives to be good stewards of the natural world. The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends that school health programs include topics such as environmental health. Along with talks about tobacco and nutrition, our children need life lessons on keeping the world around them healthy for themselves and other living things.

Here are some suggestions for blending environmental education and physical/health education:

(From Spring 2002 Interconnections)