Health Behaviors Tobacco Use Diet & Exercise Alcohol & Drug Use Sexual Activity Search Policies & Programs

Display All Policies & Programs

Open gym time

Health Factors: Diet & Exercise
Decision Makers: Educators Local Government State Government
Evidence Rating: Expert Opinion
Population Reach: 10-19% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

Is this program or policy in use in your community? Tell us about it.


Open gym time is offered during the school day to schoolchildren, typically during the lunch period when the gym or multipurpose room is not in use. Joint use agreements can expand open gym opportunities to include community members after school hours and on weekends. 

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Increased physical activity

Evidence of Effectiveness

Open gym time is a suggested strategy to increase physical activity levels for children and adolescents (CDC MMWR-School health guidelines 2011, KP-Thriving schools). Open gym time has been associated with increased physical activity (Mora 2012, CG-Hoonah Alaska 2012). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Open gym time can be implemented as part of a comprehensive school-based physical activity program designed to incorporate additional physical activity opportunities in the school day, or as a standalone effort (Heidorn 2010). 


United States

Open gym time during the school lunch period has been implemented in many schools, as in Brevard, NC (Brevard-Smart lunch); Plattsmouth, NE (KP-Open gym); and several cities and towns in Wisconsin (WI DPI-Wagner 2012). In Kearney, Nebraska, the Kearney Public Schools implemented open gym time as part of comprehensive changes to increase student physical activity levels throughout the school day (RWJF-Kearney NE).  


Open gym time during the lunch hour has been implemented in schools in many cities and towns in Wisconsin, for example Beloit, Elcho, Oakfield, Osceola, and Platteville (WI DPI-Wagner 2012).

Implementation Resources

AFHG-Physical activities - Alliance for a Healthier Generation (AFHG). Physical activities: Activities during the school day and out of school time activities. Accessed on April 29, 2018
HOST-PA - Healthy Out-of-School Time (HOST) Coalition. Resources: Physical activity (PA). Accessed on May 9, 2017

Citations - Evidence

CDC MMWR-School health guidelines 2011 - National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP), Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH). School health guidelines to promote healthy eating and physical activity. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). 2011:60(RR-05):1-71. Accessed on February 16, 2018
CG-Hoonah Alaska 2012 - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Rural community works together to stay “fun and fit.” Atlanta: The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide); 2012. Accessed on December 19, 2016
Heidorn 2010* - Heidorn BD, Hall TJ, Carson RL. Theory into practice: Comprehensive school-based physical activity program. Strategies. 2010;24(2):33-5. Accessed on February 4, 2016
KP-Thriving schools - Kaiser Permanente (KP) Thriving Schools. Open gym. Accessed on March 2, 2016
Mora 2012* - Mora R. Moving bodies: Open gyms and physical activity in Santiago. Journal of Urban Design. 2012;17(4):485-97. Accessed on February 29, 2016

Citations - Implementation

Brevard-Smart lunch - Brevard High School. SMART lunch: SMART lunch stands for students, maximizing, achievement, relationships, and time. Accessed on April 6, 2016
KP-Open gym - Kaiser Permanente (KP). Thriving schools: Open gym in Plattsmouth Community Schools District, Nebraska. Accessed on March 2, 2016
RWJF-Kearney NE - Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Signs of progress: Kearney, Nebraska. Accessed on March 2, 2016
WI DPI-Wagner 2012 - Wagner K. Wisconsin Success Stories: Active Schools. Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (WI DPI); 2012. Accessed on April 6, 2016

Page Last Updated

December 1, 2015

* Journal subscription may be required for access.