• Health: a state of complete physical, mental and social well- being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.1

  • Wellness: the process of adopting patterns of behavior that can lead to improved health and heightened life satisfaction. 2

  • Wellbeing: a state characterized by health, happiness, and prosperity.3

  • Body Mass Index (BMI)a number calculated from one's weight and height.  BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fatness.4

  • Obesity: a label given when a person is well over one's normal healthy weight, a BMI of 30.5

  • Overweight: a label given when a person's weight is greater than what is generally considered healthy for that given height, a BMI of 25-29.9.5

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  • Nutrition: the taking in and use of food and other nourishing materials by the body.

  • Calorie: A unit used to measure food energy. It is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1°C.

  • MyPyramidthe symbol and interactive food guidance system developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that encourages consumers to make healthier food choices and to be active every day. It recommends the proportion of foods from each food group and focuses on the importance of making smart food choices from every food group each day.  Recognizing that “one size does not fit all,” MyPyramid uses a personalized approach to nutrition. An individual’s age, gender and activity level influence the amounts of food needed from each of the five food groups every day. MyPyramid incorporates recommendations from the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

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  • Physical activity: any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure.6

  • Moderate-intensity physical activity: On an absolute scale, physical activity that is done at 3.0 to 5.9 times the intensity of rest. On a scale relative to an individual's personal capacity, moderate-intensity physical activity is usually a 5 or 6 on a scale of 0 to 10.

  •  Vigorous-intensity physical activity: On an absolute scale, physical activity that is done at 6.0 or more times the intensity of rest. On a scale relative to an individual's personal capacity, vigorous-intensity physical activity is usually a 7 or 8 on a scale of 0 to 10. 
  • Physical Education: a planned, sequential program of curricula and instruction that helps students develop the knowledge, attitudes, motor skills, self-management skills and confidence needed to adopt and maintain physically active lifestyles (teacher directed). 


  • Recess: unstructured playtime where children have choices; develop rules for play and release energy and stress. It is an opportunity for children to practice or use skills developed in physical education (teacher facilitated).7

  • Play: how young children physically explore their environment to facilitate language, creativity, and social skills.  Play may or may not include moderate to vigorous physical activity (child directed).

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    • Locomotor skills: a skill using the feet to move from one place to another or project the body upward
      • Walking - the process of alternately losing balance and recovering while moving forward or backward in an upright position
      • Running - same as walking but at a faster rate with brief moments of flight when both feet are off the ground
      • Jumping - a springing action leaving the ground with one or two feet and landing on two feet
      • Galloping - a combination of a step and a run in which there is a lead leg and a trail leg (same leg stays in front) - forward direction
      • Sliding - a combination of a step and a run in a sideways direction
      • Hopping - a springing action leaving the ground with one foot and landing on the same foot
      • Leaping - an extension of a run using greater force; leaving the ground with one foot and landing on the opposite foot
      • Skipping - a combination of a step and a hop, alternating feet

    • Non-locomotor skills:
      • Twisting - the rotatation of a selected body part around its long axis
      • Bending - moving a joint
      • Swaying - fluidly and gradually shifting the center of gravity from one body part to another
      • Stretching - moving body parts away from the center of gravity 
      • Turning - rotating the body along the long axis
      • Swinging - rhythmical, smooth motion of a body part resembling a pendulum
    • Manipulative skills
      • Throwing - propelling an object away from the body using your hands
      • Catching - receiving and controlling an object using the body or its parts
      • Striking - making contact with an objecting using another object
      • Kicking - making contact with an object using your feet
      • Dribbling -  the skill of striking an object mutliple times in a row (using hands or feet)
      • Volleying - making contact with an object using body parts
      • Punting - the skill of kicking an object that has been released from the hands, while it is still in the air
    • Movement concepts and awareness (BSER)
      • Body awareness - what the body can do (transfering weight, balancing, flight, etc)
      • Space awareness - where the body moves (personal, general, directions, levels, pathways, etc)
      • Effort awareness - how the body moves (time, speed, effort, force, etc)
      • Relationships awareness - how the body relates to objects and others (matching movements, mirroring movements, etc)

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              a set of functional skills or age-specific tasks that most children can do at a certain age range.  Although each milestone has an age level, the actual age when a normally developing child reaches that milestone can vary quite a bit.  REMEMBER, every child is unique! 

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                        • Cardiovascular endurancethe body's ability to undergo vigorous exercise for an extended period of time (aerobic/anaerobic).

                        • Muscular strengththe amount of force a muscle can produce (one time).

                        • Muscular endurancethe muscle's ability to produce force over a period of time (repetition).

                        • Flexibilitythe capacity of a joint to undergo vigorous exercise for an extended period of time (improved range of motion).

                        • Body compositionthe amount of fat cells compared to lean body mass (BMI).

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                        OTHER PHYSICAL ACTIVITY VOCABULARY- Be Active North Carolina



                        1. Teague, S., Mackenzie, S., and Rosenthal, D. (2007).  Your Health Today.  McGraw-Hill: New York, NY.
                        2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -
                        3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - 
                        4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - 
                        5. American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance (AAHPERD) -
                        6. Virgilio, S. (2006).  Active Start for Healthy Kids.  Human Kinetics: Champaign, IL.