Sports and Staying Active

Regular physical activity helps children and teens to be healthy and fit. The DOE offers many opportunities for students to participate in sports and to stay active before, during, and after school.

Explore these resources and links for more information.


Recess helps children get the 60 minutes of daily physical activity that the US Department of Health and Human Services recommends.

The DOE Citywide Wellness Policy encourages elementary schools to offer at least 20 minutes of recess on all or most days during the school year. Recess should not be used for meal time. Schools should set aside at least 20 minutes for students to eat their lunches.

See the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion fact sheet for more information about how your children can get enough physical activity.

Guidelines for Playing Outdoors

In cold weather, students should still be allowed to play outside whenever possible. Unless it’s snowing, there is ice on the playground, or the wind-chill factor is below zero degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius), schools should not prohibit outdoor play based on the outdoor temperature alone. On very cold days, school staff should make sure that students cover up skin, wear warm clothing, and use several layers to stay warm.

When the outdoor temperature is above 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius), children are at increased risk for heat-related illness and may have lower tolerance for exercise. When outdoor temperatures are in the 90s and humidity is high, school staff should:

  • Limit children's outdoor recess and playtime between the sun's peak hours (10:00 a.m. to at least 2:00 p.m.);
  • Reduce the intensity of outdoor activities lasting more than 15 minutes;
  • Make sure students have easy access to water and encourage them to drink often;
    • Pay special attention to students who may be more susceptible to heat related illness, like those with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes.

Parents and caregivers should encourage their children to wear clothing that is light-colored and lightweight. Review the New York City Department of Health's Extreme Heat and Your Health website for more information on how to prevent heat illness, indoors and outdoors.


In CHAMPS Sports and Fitness Program, students participate in fun, safe, and supervised sports and fitness activities before school, after school, and on weekends. The name CHAMPS stands for Cooperative, Healthy, Active, Motivated, and Positive Students.

Public Schools Athletic League

The Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) coordinates sports competitions for New York City public high schools and educates students in physical fitness, character development, and socialization skills. PSAL offers 25 varsity sports for more than 45,000 student-athletes from over 400 member schools.

Additional Programs

Many schools work with partner organizations to offer activities before or after school. For example, in some programs, student can learn how to ride a bike, participate in a running club, or help with a school garden. There are many other opportunities, and most are free.

For more information about physical activity programs: