Most youth are not meeting physical activity guidelines, and schools are a key venue for providing physical activity. School districts can provide physical activity opportunities through the adoption, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of policies. This paper reports results of a 2009 survey of California school governance leaders on the barriers and opportunities to providing school-based physical activity and strategies to promote adoption of evidence-based policies.


California school board members (n = 339) completed an 83 item online survey about policy options, perceptions, and barriers to improving physical activity in schools.


Board members’ highest rated barriers to providing physical activity were budget concerns, limited time in a school day, and competing priorities. The key policy opportunities to increase physical activity were improving the quantity and quality of physical education, integrating physical activity throughout the school day, supporting active transportation to/from school, providing access to physical activity facilities during nonschool hours, and integrating physical activity into before/after school programs.


Survey findings were used to develop policy resources and trainings for school governance leaders that provide a comprehensive approach to improving physical activity in schools.

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Cox, Berends, and Agron are with the California Dept of Public Health, California Project LEAN, Sacramento, CA. Sallis is with the Dept of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA. St. John, McNeil, and Gonzalez are with the Dept of Policy Services, California School Boards Association, West Sacramento, CA.