Fit as a family: Classroom fitness program expands to living rooms, parks
22% of children and teens
in the U.S. are obese,
compared to 19% before the pandemic
When COVID-19 shuttered schools
across Michigan, a U-M professor
saw an opportunity to help students
Dr. Rebecca Hasson and her team
adapted a successful program
from the classroom to the home
The program is called InPACT
Prolonged sitting with
Rebecca Hasson, PhD
Associate Professor, Movement Science
Director/Principal Investigator, InPACT
InPACT is Interrupting Prolonged sitting with ACTivity.
What we’re trying to do with InPACT at Home, it is a family engagement resource to where families can actually come together, and that’s our theme that we want to move together, think together and be together.
InPACT at Home Participant
It was actually a good tool for us to move around and impact our lives in a positive manner.
InPACT at Home Participant
I think it motivates me because I can see my daughter. She’s trying to help her son be motivated to stay physically fit.
InPACT at Home Participant
Yeah, it’s always fun working out. We’re just trying to be fit. But it’s a challenge. I love challenges.
InPACT at School became
InPACT at Home
InPACT was originally designed
to address obesity issues in students
This new version is not just for students,
but now incluides the entire family
It all started when a U-M alum
reached out for help
I was actually contacted by the vice president of the School Board of Education, Dr. Pamela Pugh, who said, “Can you help us get kids moving at home while they’re sheltering in place?”
Pamela Pugh, DrPh
Vice President, State Board of Education
How do we expect a child to learn if they’re not getting the physical activity?
Program Associate 1 & Regional Health Coordinator
Detroit Public Schools Community District
When kids and students are in good physical health and mental health, they are able to rise academically.
Program Director, Michigan Learning Channel
Detroit Public Television
So we have a unique opportunity to reach the parents and the families who are in the room with, with the student and with the kid, which we know is a really critical part of school success.
And that is how InPACT at Home came about. We translated the findings that we had in the school. And then we also used a web-based platform to disseminate this.
Short workout videos were created
by Michigan PE teachers,
designed to be used in the home
The next challenge was making these
videos accessible to all Michigan students
It became very clear after the pandemic hit that a third of kids in Michigan did not have access to internet at home, and that is an urban problem and it’s also a rural problem. So putting it on broadcast was really critical.
In January of 2021, Detroit Public Television
launhed a new service called
the Michigan Learning Channel
It provides instructional resources
for students and teachers
and includes the InPACT at Home
It’s so great that we have been able to partner with Detroit Public TV.
Children don’t need cable, they don’t need internet, they can access it and that is a win–win for everyone.
This makes it easy for me to just pull it up on the television and then I can just start exercising.
With our obesity rates here in Michigan, we should be taking all avenues to get children engaged and families, parents.
We’ve got about 20,000 people a day that are tuning into the channel, and we’ve got a lot of opportunity to really grow it.
I love to call it the people’s program because the people help to develop it, the people help to disseminate it and how the people are using it.
InPACT at Home is
set to adapt yet again
The newest innovation is called
InPACT in the Community
Director, Parks and Recreation
City of Ferndale
We are a small community, but we do big things, as you can see. Today, we have our annual fall festival.
It’s a great fit for InPACT because if we can get 20 minutes in the classroom, 20 minutes at home and hopefully 20 minutes in our community, we are giving children all across the state an opportunity to meet the physical activity guidelines.
Senior, Movement Science
School of Kinesiology
We want to build on each of them. We want to spread it, hopefully worldwide. But we’re starting at the local level, hopefully statewide, and then nationwide.
It really warms my heart and just so happy to be able to have InPACT part of this as well.
It really does take a village—that is not just a saying, that is a true and honest how this program happened.
That’s the beauty of being an educator and working at the University of Michigan is that we have opportunities to innovate and innovate together to help children across the state.
DETROIT—Peggy Ruckes, a retired Detroit school teacher, is the first to admit she’s got problems with her knees and hips from sitting too much.
She’s working to change that by using an exercise platform first designed to get kids moving in the classroom that has transformed since the pandemic to reach communities across the state.
It’s estimated that only 23% of U.S. kids get the recommended hour of daily physical activity. InPACT at Home, a fitness program developed by the University of Michigan with state and national partners, received $1 million in COVID-19 CARES funds and solidified a partnership with PBS Michigan Learning Channel to air these homegrown exercise videos on television, beginning January 2021.
InPACT stands for Interrupting Prolonged Sitting with Activity.
These videos were designed to acclimate kids to at-home fitness. InPACT at Home debuted the workouts that comprise the heart of the program last summer—20-minute cardio routines developed and recorded at home by Michigan physical education teachers. Videos also included nutrition messaging and social emotional learning activities, all accessible on smartphones, tablets and computers.
“This makes it easy for me to become more active because I don’t have to pay for it. I just pull it up on the television or my computer and then I can just start exercising,” Ruckes said.
Peggy, her daughter Jeanetta Ruckes and grandson Azaan meet in Peggy’s living room and get moving.
“It’s pretty good because we all gathered around … like a family unit,” Azaan said. “Yeah, it’s always fun working out. Sometimes I sweat. But it’s a challenge. I love challenges.”
Jeanetta, a social worker, says the family is trying to get fit during the pandemic and stay on top of their health. And the program helps to bring them together where they’re most comfortable.
“To me, it means trying to have a major impact at home on your health instead of relying on going outside your home,” Jeanetta said. “So instead of just sitting there, it was actually a good tool for us to move around and impact our lives in a positive manner during a negative time.”
If you tune into the videos on the PBS Michigan Learning Channel website, you’ll recognize Peggy (aka “Mama Peggy”), Jeanetta (“JPOP”) and Azaan (“Cool Azaan”) in ones developed by Alanna Price (“Ms. AP”), a program associate for the Detroit Public Schools Community District.
In the videos, Peggy models how to do the exercises from a seated position.
“We want everyone to be doing it together at the same time and giving it the best that they can at whatever speed and level that they’re at,” Price said. “Once you start a physically active lifestyle and healthy eating, you are more successful in completing it and making it meaningful, while doing it as a whole family.”
Rebecca Hasson, U-M associate professor of kinesiology and director of the Childhood Disparities Research Laboratory, also partnered with Ferndale as part of the Ferndale Parks and Recreation’s fall festival. Families were out in force after soccer games and were led in some activities and family movement.
“We’ve been promoting classroom physical activity during the pandemic. We’ve been promoting home activity, and now we’re expanding it to the community,” Hasson said. “Public Television’s Michigan Learning Channel has been a great opportunity to increase access to physical activity to all of the children in this state, irrespective of their internet connection, socioeconomic status or neighborhood environments.”
Gillian Gainsley, program director of the Michigan Learning Channel on PBS, said InPACT fits perfectly with the statewide resources the channel offers to serve students, teachers and families.
“We felt it was very important to go to broadcast television because we knew, and it became very clear after the pandemic hit that a third of kids in Michigan—500,000 kids—did not have access to the internet at home,” Gainsley said.
“And that is an urban problem. And it’s also a rural problem. So it’s really a statewide issue where there are students that don’t have access to these materials at home. We already heard about the homework gap and the research and opportunities that kids don’t have access to. So putting it on broadcast was really critical.”
Activity and outcomes
Pamela Pugh, vice president of Michigan’s State Board of Education who received her doctorate in public health from U-M, reached out to Hasson during the pandemic to find ways to expand access to InPACT for school children across Michigan.
“How do we expect a child to learn if they’re not getting the physical activity that they need to have, knowing that physical activity is as important and is so intricately related to the outcomes of a child’s learning,” Pugh said. “With our obesity rates here in Michigan, we should have all hands on deck. We should be taking all avenues to get children engaged and families, parents.”
InPACT at Home evolved and draws heavily on InPACT at School.
Parents and students can do InPACT at Home together, or kids can use it alone, Hasson said. The longer workouts can be broken up throughout the day or done in one sweat session.
Partners of the InPACT at Home program include the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan School Health Coordinators’ Association, Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE Michigan), Michigan Public Health Institute, Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association, Playworks Michigan, Detroit Lions Football Education, former Detroit Piston Earl Cureton and former Flint mayor Karen Weaver.
InPACT at Home programming includes exercise videos, fitness logs, and information for parents.