Cardio Activities for PE

Instructor: Grace Pisano

Grace has a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in teaching. She previously taught high school in several states around the country.

One of the best ways to teach students how to be healthy is by introducing them to different types of cardiovascular fitness. Use these activities in your middle and high school physical education classes.

The Necessity of Cardiovascular Fitness

Few things can be more challenging than convincing a group or middle or high school students to engage in high-intensity exercise in their gym clothes, in the middle of the day, surrounded by their peers. However, it is essential that students understand how to make fitness choices that will help take care of their bodies. After talking about the importance of cardiovascular health with your middle and high school students, use these activities to help them get moving!

Deck of Cards

For this activity, students will play a game that will result in a great cardiovascular workout. Begin with a deck of cards. Explain to students that they will be doing a workout based on the cards they draw. The suit on each card correlates to a cardiovascular exercise. For example, you could use the following:

  • Hearts = Burpees
  • Spades = Jumping Jacks
  • Clubs = High Knees
  • Diamonds = Mountain Climbers

The number on the card correlates to the amount of each exercise, with face cards representing the number 10 (or even more!). For fun, you can have aces also represent 10 or have students do another activity such as run 400 meters when an ace is drawn.

To play the game, select a student to pick a card (facedown). Then, the entire class will complete the exercise based on that card. For example, if a student draws the four of hearts, all students will do four burpees. Continue to allow students to take turns drawing cards until all students have gone, you run out of time or the deck is finished.

  • Materials Needed: Deck of cards

Reliving Childhood

Something that surprisingly seems to get students engaged in cardiovascular activity is playing the games they played when they were small children. For this activity, you will spend time allowing students to play games like ''Duck, Duck, Goose,'' freeze tag, dodgeball, capture the flag, or four square. You can do this activity either by having all students play the same game or by allowing students to pick between two or three games. Students will be having fun and getting a great workout without even realizing that they are exercising.

You could use additional student input by having your class brainstorm what some of their favorite outdoor games were when they were younger.

  • Materials Needed: Varies by games chosen including balls, sidewalk chalk, flags

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