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Middle/High
Lesson Ideas
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Name of Activity / Task: Twelve Ways to Fitness

Concept being Taught: Components of fitness (cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, flexibility and muscular strength)

Purpose of Activity: To have students work on their cardiovascular and muscular endurance in a fun and motivational way. This activity can be used during the fitness portion of any physical education lesson.

Suggested Grade Level: 6-8

Materials Needed: A large open space that safely accommodates a particular class size, music, CD/Tape player

Description of the Activity / Task:

This is an add-on fitness activity using 12 student leaders. Have your students get into groups of twelve (or a large group could be used as well with the twelve student leaders in front of the group calling out the exercise they are assigned).

Explain to the students that you are going to have them work on some fitness exercises and it works very much like the Christmas song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" where the students add on and perform the next number of exercises. All of the students will do the exercises together. For example, all do 4 sit-ups together, then they do 3 push ups, etc.

The following is an example complete with suggested fitness exercises. You are welcome to choose the exercises that you are partial to.
    1. Push-up (first student leader does)

    2. Sit-ups (second leader adds on and then repeats #1)

    3. Coffee-grinders (extend one arm on the ground supporting the body weight while walking the feet 360 degrees around the arm. Students can alternate arms when needed. In this example, students perform 3 coffee-grinders each time it comes up then do 2 sit-ups) (third leader adds on then repeat #2, #1)

    4. Crab kicks (fourth leader adds on then repeat #3, #2, #1)

    5. Golden rest (This is a rest period where students get a break between exercises by walking slowly around the area chanting "one golden rest, two golden rests, three golden rests, four golden rests, five golden rests". After they complete the fifth golden rest, as suggested by this example, they perform 4 crab kicks. (fifth leader adds on then repeat #4, #3, #2, #1)

    6. Leaping leaps (sixth leader adds on then repeat #5, #4, #3, #2, #1)

    7. Jumping jacks (seventh leader adds on then repeat #6, #5, #4, #3, #2, #1)

    8. Forward lunges (eighth leader adds on then repeat #7, #6, #5, #4, #3, #2, #1)

    9. Carioca (or grapevine/crossover) steps (students move sideways with arms held out and parallel to the ground using a crossover step in front and a return step, a crossover step in back, and finally another step (this is considered one complete carioca step). (ninth leader adds on then repeat #8, #7, #6, #5, #4, #3, #2, #1)

    10. Skipping skips (tenth leader adds on then repeat #9, #8, #7, #6, #5, #4 #3, #2, #1)

    11. Rooster hops (Simply hopping on one foot. Students can alternate legs if needed.) (eleventh leader adds on then repeat #10, #9, #8, #7, #6, #5, #4, #3, #2, #1)

    12. Running steps/stairs (last student leader adds on then repeat #11, #10, #9, #8, #7, #6, #5, #4, #3, #2, #1)

Variations/Tips/Assessment:

  • Have students choose the exercise to do (may want to have a large list available for them to look at)
  • After activity is over have students write down the exercises and have them write which fitness component each exercise was stressing or was most closely related to. Have them turn this in so you can check for understanding.
  • If a big class you may want to post the exercises on a poster board for those in the back.


    Submitted by Belinda Stillwell and Dr. Paul W. Darst. Belinda teaches at Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA and Paul teaches at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. Thanks for contributing to PE Central!
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