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Planning a Walking Club at Elementary Schools

What is a Walking Club?

A fun way for students and staff to be active by walking laps around the schoolyard.  It can be conducted by individual teachers with their own classes at recess or P.E. time or by support staff for all students at recess.

Why walk?

Walking is one of the healthiest, safest, and easiest ways to begin a fitness program and can be a big step toward improving your health and the health of your students. Fitness or aerobic* walking uses all of the major muscle groups in the upper and lower body in a non-impacting, dynamic, rhythmic action, which is what an ideal exercise should do.

How does it work?

Step 1:   Teach an introductory lesson on fitness walking, pulse taking & stretching.

Walking Club
Walking Club
Walking Club with the buddy system.  

     Sample Lessons: 

  • Quality Daily Physical Education, Dr. Robin D Reese (SFUSD adopted physical education curriculum)
  • Lower grades:  “Kid’s Physical Activity Pyramid” from Reading Across MyPyramid
  • Upper grades:  “Fitness Walking,” from Eat Well and Keep Moving

Step 2:   Participants gather to walk around a designated area –the school yard, around the block, etc. The leader informs the group of the goal—a certain number of laps, or designated amount of time.  The group may take their resting pulses. 

Step 3:   Gather students at the end of the walk to take their pulse again.  Ask them to compare this rate to their resting pulse.  Reinforce the importance of aerobic exercise and being active 60 minutes a day.

Step 4:   Return to class and chart students’ progress on individual or classroom charts or maps.


Integrate the Walking Club with classroom curricula

Social Studies/Math: As a class or individually, design the itinerary of a fitness walk across the region you are studying; students could “walk” around San Francisco, up the California coast, across America, around the world… Let students select a name, such as “Walk Across America” or “A Trip Around the World.”

Walking Club
Walking Club

Link the students’ walking with a particular distance, depending on the classroom goal or how large the geographic area the class is studying:

  • a period of walking time might equal a specific distance (e.g. five minutes walked could equal 50 miles or 200 miles)
  • one lap of walking might equal a mile on the map
  • one mile of walking might equal one mile on the map

Keep track of class walks on a classroom and/or individual student logs provided. The class log can be made larger and displayed in the classroom for all to see. A map of the area/region/country that they will be traveling across can be displayed along with the log.

Motivate your students and your school to be physically active for 60 minutes every day!  Get Walking!

Classroom Walking Log (pdf)
Student Walking Log (pdf)


Walking Club Best Practices

Walking Club

Walking Club
Teachers practice walking around the
walking club obstacle course and
receive walking club certificates at the Professional Development event "Getting Ready..."

  • Get students walking quickly to maximize time.
  • Have students create banners or flags that they can carry while walking.
  • Emphasize walking to improve individual health & walking for fun—rather than competition with others.
  • Give incentives to help motivate individuals and classrooms (i.e. stickers to walkers, or a classroom prize, such as a farmers’ market field trip, for reaching a group goal.
  • Start walking slowly to warm up and avoid injuries, then speed up.
  • Use chalk to create a track on the yard and incorporate messages such as “keep it up,” or “swing your arms.”  Integrate stations such as jump rope, jumping jacks, abdominal crunches... 
  • Figure out how many laps equal a mile by using a pedometer and have students create goals for number of miles they will walk in a day, week or month.
  • Get other staff involved.
  • Bring out a boom box and play music to keep everyone pumped up!


* Aerobic exercise, by definition is performed at moderate levels of intensity for extended periods of time. To obtain the best results, an aerobic exercise session involves a warming up period, followed by at least 20 minutes of moderate to intense exercise involving large muscle groups, and a cooling down period at the end

Walking ClubTeachers planting seeds
Fitness Friday and Sheridan Walking Club 




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Student, Family and Community Support DepartmentSan Francisco Unified School District