How To Teach: Exercise and Fitness Routines

functional life skills how to teach life skills teacher experience teacherspayteachers transition Oct 18, 2021
Importance of Fitness
P.E. or Gym class may have been a time to relax, to work on social skills with peer buddies, or to get in physical therapy or occupational therapy minutes. When a student’s schedule begins to allow autonomy in their fitness routine, then the activity will have new meaning and may increase their willingness to engage and reap the benefits of exercise and overall workout.
-What fitness and exercise is
-What happens to the body when your exercise
-When to exercise and for how long
-Steps to engaging in a fitness routine
-How to make fitness meaningful and enjoyable
Why Focus On These Skills
Exercise is a necessary part of staying healthy. It is widely known that individuals with disabilities don’t come close to getting the recommended weekly minutes or intensity of exercise. Fitness and exercise should be approached as a choice making activity and getting the student to engage in an activity they love, then they will inch closer to meeting what is recommended by the health community. Our students need to understand how important it is to move their body and to stay active in a way they prefer.
When To Teach
If you are starting a fitness routine with your students, then it would be best to teach this lesson before they step foot in the gym. If that isn’t realistic for your schedule, then consider using it after a long break (like winter break) from the gym routine so you can come back refreshed and with new expectations!
I’ve created a complete lesson unit of materials for teaching this topic. The materials are comprehensive (3 full lessons) and most appropriate for life skill lessons at the middle school, high school and transition level students. Below are some lesson unit highlights!
Students will identify the 4 steps to a fitness routine.
Students will identify fitness activity preferences.
Lesson Vocabulary
Activity, bike, clean, elliptical, exercise, fitness, heart rate, purify, sweat, treadmill
  • Pre and Post assessment
  • 1 page narrative explaining the skill with and without visual text supports (to incorporate functional reading)
  • 5 skill practice activities to learn and/or reinforce the focus skills
  • Boom Cards for practice or assessment
  • 5 Strategies for Success (tips for being successful with the focus skills)
  • Student learning reflection worksheet (thumbs up or down)
  • Coloring page with on-topic graphics
  • Homework sheet to encourage students to practice the skill outside of the school setting
  • Word search of key vocabulary terms
  • Visuals for focus skills with age appropriate colors and graphics
Ultimate Goal
If students come away from the lesson having identified a preferred fitness or exercise activity, then your lesson was a success. Knowing what they enjoy and prefer doing to stay active is the top priority. Allowing them time to engage in the preferred activity is the next step, and then focus on making it meaningful for their health and body.
Links to Curriculum

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