Top Strategies to Celebrate Heart Health Month

Caylie Gaccione
Curriculum Specialist
Blog on February 17 2023

February is a short but busy month full of lots of holidays and celebrations. One of the many notable celebrations is National Heart Health Month. This month is dedicated to helping people understand the importance of maintaining a healthy heart and reviewing strategies for staying physically fit, eating healthy, and more.  Heart Health Month has been celebrated since 1963 and is a way to promote activities and initiatives to join the battle against heart disease. Let’s take a look at some strategies and ideas for you to try with your students to teach them about the importance of heart health!

Why teach heart health activities?

Before we dive into some specific strategies, it’s important that we explore the importance of heart health activities. Whether you teach physical education, a multi-subject elementary class, or a subject-specific middle or high school class,  you can incorporate lessons and activities that teach students about Heart Health Month.

  1. Even at a young age, it is so important that our students understand the risk factors for heart disease, and learn strategies to stay healthy that they can carry into adulthood.
  2. Providing students with an explanation of how the heart works will enable them to make positive, healthy choices. Teach them about how the heart is a muscle and provides the oxygen, nutrients, and blood that our bodies need.
  3. Encourage physical activity at all ages and beyond PE class. Promoting students to get up and moving and thinking of exercise as “fun” is another transferable skill to take into adulthood.
  4. Another vital skill to teach students early on is eating healthy and making small, healthy choices each day. Heart health activities don’t have to always be physical and can sometimes just be informative.
  5. Staying active, eating right, and understanding the facts all lend to overall stress management and a healthy well-being, which really is the goal of teaching about heart health!

Specific strategies

Now that we have some more background information about Heart Health Month and why this is so important to teach our students, we are ready to take a look at some specific strategies that you can use to not only educate your students, but also get them excited about heart health.

  1. Warm ups: Start small! Even if it’s a quick warm up or a healthy heart fun fact of the day; a little goes a long way. Any class can benefit from a quick activity, not just PE. Getting students up and moving can help them focus.
  2. Build background: Start with a general lesson about heart health and set the stage for the activities to come. Just like we did at the start of this blog, it’s so important that students have that background information about heart health so that they can really understand the importance of the activities that they are going to be working on.
  3. Get transdisciplinary: Sprinkle heart health lessons and activities into other subject areas. Try a math lesson where students track their heart rate or maybe an ELA lesson where students can reflect on their own healthy habits.
  4. Home carry-over: Get families, staff, and community members involved in learning about heart health. By involving other people who are important to our students, healthy habits are more likely to stick. Consider sending home a pamphlet with heart health facts and ways to stay healthy at home, or even provide a list of suggestions for the school staff to start moving each day!
  5. Build habits: Daily practices can go a long way! Try a ten minute cardio exercise at the start of each class, a stretch break, or an SEL brain break on a regular basis. Building habits in the classroom can encourage students to build healthy habits in their life outside of school.

Lessons and activity ideas:

Let’s take a closer look at a few of my favorite activities and lessons.

  • Student-led activity breaksOne thing that I loved doing with my students was having them lead an exercise during morning meetings. Each student had a chance to share an exercise that they enjoyed and it was always a great mental and physical boost for all students each day. Have students lead the exercises, share favorite games/activities, or try a new activity each day with PE activity breaks.
PE activity breaks
Physicial activity doesn’t have to be intense! Start small with sporadic exercises in between class time.

  • Create a fitness and heart health public service announcement: Encourage students to connect with a larger audience to inform others about heart health. Try out hashtags on social media, record videos on a platform like Flip, create a poster, and more.
  • Share daily health and fitness tips: Like we mentioned earlier, remember that teaching these skills doesn’t have to be intensive. A quick “fun fact” at the start of class can make all the difference.
Fitness and heart health PSA
Just like taking care of a pet or a plant, the heart is a living thing that needs maintenance too, such as exercise and a balanced diet.

Daily health and fitness tips
It is recommended to maintain at least 30 minutes of movement per day, so try a new heart health tip each day!

I hope these ideas inspire you to teach your students the importance of heart health. Try out a few of these different strategies to instill healthy habits in your students that will go far beyond the month of February! To learn more about American Heart Month, check out this collection of resources from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Be sure to check out our accompanying OTIS course, Raising Heart Health Awareness in Physical Education, as well as many other courses in the OTIS Course Library to explore other thematic activities.

For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more content on the Teq Talk blog or our YouTube channels OTIS for educators and Tequipment.

We also offer virtual professional development, training, and support with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology and strategies that spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening!

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