Open gym time

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 (Rated)

  • 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 (, 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 (). 

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

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).  

Implementation Resources

AFHG-Physical activities - Alliance for a Healthier Generation (AFHG). Physical activities: Activities during the school day and out of school time activities.

HOST-PA - Healthy Out-of-School Time (HOST) Coalition. Resources: Physical activity (PA).

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

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.

KP-Thriving schools - Kaiser Permanente (KP) Thriving Schools. Open gym.

Mora 2012* - Mora R. Moving bodies: Open gyms and physical activity in Santiago. Journal of Urban Design. 2012;17(4):485-97.

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.

Heidorn 2010* - Heidorn BD, Hall TJ, Carson RL. Theory into practice: Comprehensive school-based physical activity program. Strategies. 2010;24(2):33-5.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

RWJF-Kearney NE - Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Signs of progress: Kearney, Nebraska.

Brevard-Smart lunch - Brevard High School. SMART lunch: SMART lunch stands for students, maximizing, achievement, relationships, and time.

WI DPI-Wagner 2012 - Wagner K. Wisconsin Success Stories: Active Schools. Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (WI DPI); 2012.

KP-Open gym - Kaiser Permanente (KP). Thriving schools: Open gym in Plattsmouth Community Schools District, Nebraska.

Date Last Updated

Dec 1, 2015