The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


Student Physical Activity Dropped Worldwide During COVID-19, Raising Concerns for Health

Posted in

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The Cooper Institute has published a new research study demonstrating the impact of COVID-19 on Physical Education and physical activity across the nation during this time of remote learning. The observed decrease in physical activity puts our children at increased risk for obesity and the related health outcomes in the future.

The Cooper Institute research study was completed in March 2021 by 2,440 respondents from all 50 U.S. States. The study examined the status of Physical Education and physical activity during distance learning and sought to understand the challenges experienced by educators. Of respondents, 79% reported their students were either “Significantly Less” (48%) or “Somewhat Less” (31%) physically active during school closure. 

Significant reductions were observed in weekly requirements for Physical Education with many more schools reporting “no” or “zero” hours required during the pandemic. Similar findings of decreased physical activity were seen in studies from Verona, Italy and Shanghai, China. Based on all these findings, opportunities for physical activity have decreased around the globe. It is imperative that all youth are provided with safe, simple and easily implemented physical activity programs.

The Cooper Institute research study also demonstrated the most significant challenges experienced by teachers during the pandemic for closed schools were access to online learning, teacher and student communication and teacher remote work arrangements.

Listen to the FitnessGram Playground by The Cooper Institute

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Cooper Institute created The FitnessGram PlayGround a free online site for educators that offers resources for Health and Fitness to improve student’s physical and mental well-being.

The FitnessGram PlayGround provides teachers with resources to educate the importance of health-related fitness and living a physically active lifestyle. 

LEARN about the importance of health-related fitness, ASSESS current physical fitness, and ADDRESS your physical fitness by participating in 60-minutes of physical activity daily. 

Some of the available resources to help students stay healthy and physically active on the site include:

Visit the FitnessGram Playground and improve your physical and mental well-being at

  Read: Cooper Quarterly Newsletter - Spring Edition 2021