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Homework or extra credit for PE class

Health Factors: Diet & Exercise
Decision Makers: Educators Local Government State Government
Evidence Rating: Some Evidence
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.


Teachers assign homework or extra credit activities for physical education (PE) or health class that require students to be physically active outside of school. Parents are often asked to sign off on the activities completed to fulfill these homework assignments. 

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Increased physical activity
Increased healthy habits
Improved physical fitness
Improved weight status

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that assigning homework or extra credit for physical education (PE) class increases physical activity levels for schoolchildren (Duncan 2011, Smith 2003, Gabbei 2001) and college students (Claxton 2009). Assigning PE homework as part of a multi-component obesity prevention intervention can also improve children’s fitness (Meyer 2014) and weight status (Fairclough 2013) and increase physical activity levels (Lubans 2014). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Homework that is relevant, motivating, and supported by parents; builds on class lessons; and holds students accountable for its accomplishment has been shown to increase children’s activity levels (Gabbei 2001). Such assignments can also encourage healthy physical activity habits outside of school (Pettman 2010). Providing teachers with guidance regarding how to assign age-appropriate physical activity homework may increase the number of teachers assigning PE homework (Thom 2012). 

Assigning homework or extra credit activities is generally considered to be a low or no-cost approach to increasing students’ physical activity that can be implemented by existing PE, Health, or classroom teachers (CDC MMWR-Baranowski 1997, Mitchell 2000). 


United States

PE and classroom teachers across the country are assigning physical activity homework or extra credit activities at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Camarillo, CA (Monte Vista-PE homework) and Monroe, NC (Union Academy-PE homework) are examples of communities undertaking these types of initiatives.

Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) is a teacher-created, on-line site where teachers can share materials, resources, and best practices free of charge or for purchase. TpT includes many resources for PE homework (TPT-PE homework).


The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction suggests assigning homework or extra credit activities as a strategy to become an active school (WI DPI-Active schools).

Implementation Resources

AHA-Middle school lessons - American Heart Association (AHA). Middle school lesson plans. Accessed on November 24, 2015
HOST-PA - Healthy Out-of-School Time (HOST) Coalition. Resources: Physical activity (PA). Accessed on May 9, 2017
Krupa-Fitness homework - Krupa K. Promoting active & healthy lifestyles: Fitness homework. PE Links 4U. Accessed on March 2, 2016
PE Central-Fitness homework - PE Central. Middle school PE lesson ideas: PE fitness homework materials. Accessed on March 2, 2016
WI DPI-Active schools - Evers T. Active schools toolkit. Madison: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI); 2011. Accessed on November 18, 2015

Citations - Evidence

CDC MMWR-Baranowski 1997 - Baranowski T, Bar-Or O, Blair S, et al. Guidelines for school and community programs to promote lifelong physical activity among young people. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). 1997;46(RR-06):1-36. Accessed on November 27, 2015
Claxton 2009 - Claxton D, Wells GM. The effect of physical activity homework on physical activity among college students. Journal of Physical Activity & Health. 2009;6(2):203-10. Accessed on December 10, 2015
Duncan 2011 - Duncan S, McPhee JC, Schluter PJ, et al. Efficacy of a compulsory homework programme for increasing physical activity and healthy eating in children: The healthy homework pilot study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2011;8:127. Accessed on December 30, 2015
Fairclough 2013 - Fairclough SJ, Hackett AF, Davies IG, et al. Promoting healthy weight in primary school children through physical activity and nutrition education: A pragmatic evaluation of the CHANGE! randomised intervention study. BMC Public Health. 2013;13:626. Accessed on March 2, 2016
Gabbei 2001* - Gabbei R, Hamrick D. Using physical activity homework to meet the national standards. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. 2001;72(4):21-6. Accessed on February 5, 2016
Lubans 2014* - Lubans D, Cohen K, Potnikoff R, Callister R, Morgan P. The SCORES physical activity intervention for children attending schools in low-income communities: A cluster RCT. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 2014;18(1):e121. Accessed on March 2, 2016
Meyer 2014 - Meyer U, Schindler C, Zahner L, et al. Long-term effect of a school-based physical activity program (KISS) on fitness and adiposity in children: A cluster-randomized controlled trial. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(2):e87929. Accessed on March 2, 2016
Mitchell 2000* - Mithcell M, Barton GV, Stanne K. The role of homework in helping students meet physical education goals. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. 2000;71(5):30-4. Accessed on February 29, 2016
Pettman 2010 - Pettman T, McAllister M, Verity F, et al. Eat well be active community programs: Final report. South Australia Department of Health; 2010. Accessed on January 25, 2016
Smith 2003* - Smith MA, Claxton DB. Using active homework in physical education. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. 2003;74(5):28-32. Accessed on May 20, 2016
Thom 2012 - Thom S, Yun J. Factors affecting physical educators' assigning physical education homework. 2012 AAHPERD National Convention & Exposition; Boston, MA. 2012. Accessed on March 2, 2016

Citations - Implementation

Monte Vista-PE homework - Monte Vista Middle School. Physical education: Homework assignments/handouts. Accessed on March 2, 2016
TPT-PE homework - Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT). Physical education homework resources. Accessed on March 2, 2016
Union Academy-PE homework - Union Academy Charter School. PE homework: Fitness log. Accessed on March 2, 2016
WI DPI-Active schools - Evers T. Active schools toolkit. Madison: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI); 2011. Accessed on November 18, 2015

Page Last Updated

December 1, 2015

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