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Policy Plays an Important Role in Increasing Kids’ Physical Activity

Whether in your home, your school, or your community, policies related to kids’ physical activity are important.

Policies guide our actions on particular issues and challenges. Policies related to kids’ physical activity have a significant impact on children’s opportunities to get active and stay active.

What’s your policy?

For example, at home, you might have policies about your family’s media use, dessert portions or participation in after-dinner walks.

Your school might have policies about physical activity requirements, regular activity breaks or the type of classroom treats for rewards.

Your faith community or civic group might have a policy about offering healthy foods during special celebrations.

Policies for the common good

Our communities sometimes implement policies which establish things like bike lanes, smoking restrictions, menu labeling and bans on certain food ingredients. All of these policies, both formal and informal, affect our opportunities to make good choices related to our physical activity and general well-being.

Sometimes people organize together to implement policies that provide more opportunities for physical activity for children. “Bikes on Broadway came about in response to a request from local citizens...they presented the idea to the city commission -- we thought it was great, so we instituted that last year, and it’s been tremendously popular.” Gayle Kaler, City Commissioner, Paducah, Ky. Find out more about Bikes on Broadway.

Policy can make changes happen

Policies can help catalyze individual and cultural changes, and we are beginning to see the positive impact of policy decisions all around Kentucky. At the school level, Campbell Ridge Elementary in Alexandria implemented a wellness policy which requires teachers to give students ten minutes of exercise twice daily. On a state level, a statute referred to as Senate Bill 172requires schools to turn off vending machines during the school day so that students are motivated to spend their lunch money in the cafeteria.

We need to think about and discuss how our policies affect children’s physical activity and overall health, and develop and support policies that move us forward in this effort.

Additional Information

Learn more about federal and state policies that influence nutrition and physical activity in Kentucky’s public schools from Kentucky Action for Kentucky Action for Healthy Kids.

Read about policies to reduce obesity in Kentucky at the Partnership for a Fit Kentucky website.