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Rural Health Information Hub

The Walking Classroom

  • Need: To increase students' levels of physical activity, engagement in learning, and academic achievement.
  • Intervention: With The Walking Classroom, students take a brisk walk as a group while listening to a kid-friendly, custom-written educational podcast that aligns with the curriculum.
  • Results: Children increase their activity level while learning academic content, building health literacy, and developing healthy lifestyle habits to prevent obesity and improve cognitive function and retention.


There is a significant positive relationship between physical activity and cognitive function in children. Classrooms, summer programs, afterschool, and other educational organizations in all 50 states use The Walking Classroom (TWC) to help students learn while they get fresh air and exercise and develop lifelong healthy habits. The Walking Classroom is a program of Alliance for a Healthier Generation that works with schools, youth-serving organizations, and businesses, to build healthier communities that support children's physical, social, and emotional health.

The Walking Classroom logo

Using TWC, students in 3rd through 8th grade take a brisk walk as a class while listening to fun, custom-written educational podcasts on preloaded "WalkKit" audio players or on a mobile app.

In this 5-minute video, a fifth-grade teacher and her students share their experiences with The Walking Classroom:

Other videos talk about the benefits of TWC from teachers' perspectives.

Services offered

The evidence-based Walking Classroom program aligns with federal funding priorities (including ESSER), supporting social and emotional learning, addressing learning loss, and providing a learning tool that can be used in any learning environment.

The Walking Classroom podcast topics align with state learning standards and cover English language arts, science, social studies, and biographies. Each 20-minute podcast begins with a brief health message to help build health literacy. A character value (such as empathy, perseverance, reliability, integrity) is woven throughout the podcast narrative to support social and emotional learning.

The program includes full lesson plans with discussion questions, quizzes, and supplemental resources for each podcast topic as well as free online training and professional development for educators. The preloaded WalkKit audio players include 167 educational podcasts. The Walking Classroom Podcasts mobile app includes 191 educational podcasts.


Since its inception in 2011, hundreds of thousands of students have benefited from walking, listening, and learning with The Walking Classroom.

Two research studies have been completed on the impact of The Walking Classroom. Both were performed by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and published in partnership with the Oak Foundation. The first study, conducted in 2018, found that walking while listening to podcasts improved student learning and retention as well as student mood. The second study, conducted in 2018 and 2019, found that students demonstrated higher levels of health literacy after participating in the Walking Classroom program.

Educators who have used the Walking Classroom report that it:

  • 99% - Increases physical activity
  • 99% - Addresses different learning styles
  • 99% - Aligns with standards
  • 98% - Fosters health literacy and healthy habits
  • 98% - Builds core content knowledge
  • 97% - Enhances social-emotional learning
  • 97% - Develops character values
  • 94% - Differentiates instruction

Students who used the Walking Classroom reported:

  • 89% - TWC helps them better understand the content
  • 83% - TWC makes learning more fun
  • 75% - It's easier to concentrate throughout the day after a TWC lesson
  • 74% - Enjoyed walking since starting TWC

Program participants described how the Walking Classroom has impacted them:

"My students are learning so much and being exposed to topics and vocabulary they never would have been before. I am especially looking forward to using The Walking Classroom in the future to build background knowledge for our learning targets. There are so many engaging ways to use this program." – Teacher

"I am so thankful for the program. I have been using the program for at least 8 years and I have watched the program grow and evolve. The website and blog are amazing and full of ideas and resources to supplement in my classroom." – Teacher

"I get frustrated when I stay in one place a lot and I don't do movement, but with The Walking Classroom, I get to move and when I get back in class, I'm happy and calm." – Sixth grade student

"The podcasts help me focus and help things stick in my mind much better." – Fourth grade student

The Walking Classroom was a finalist for the 2014 Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust Innovations in Rural Health Award. The award recognizes innovative ideas and projects across the United States that have the potential to improve the health of people living in rural North Carolina communities. The Walking Classroom has also received the following awards:

For more information about the impact of the Walking Classroom:

The Walking Classroom is a program of Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.


The Walking Classroom preloaded WalkKit audio players, Mobile App, Teachers' Guides, Discussion Guides, and Home Kits are available for purchase and by donation.

Contact Information

Debra Ives, Director, Business Development
The Walking Classroom

Children and youth
Physical activity
Wellness, health promotion, and disease prevention

States served

Date added
April 21, 2014

Date updated or reviewed
March 3, 2023

Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2023. The Walking Classroom [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: [Accessed 1 October 2023]

Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.