MYP Health and Physical Education

In the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP), physical and health education empowers students to understand and appreciate the value of being physically active and to develop the motivation for making healthy life choices.

Physical and health education focuses on both learning about and learning through physical activity.

Both dimensions help students to develop approaches to learning (ATL) skills across the curriculum.

MYP physical and health education courses must engage students in physical education activities for at least half of the total teaching time allocated to the subject group.

What is the significance of Health and Physical Education in the MYP?

Physical and health education courses foster the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes that will contribute to a student’s balanced and healthy lifestyle. Through opportunities for active learning, courses in this subject group embody and promote the holistic nature of well-being.

Through physical and health education, students can learn to appreciate and respect the ideas of others, and develop effective collaboration and communication skills.

This subject area also offers many opportunities to build positive interpersonal relationships that can help students to develop a sense of social responsibility.

How is  in the MYP Physical and Health Education structured?

In order to give students an opportunity to meet the MYP physical and health education objectives at the highest level, teachers should plan a balanced curriculum that includes significant content.

This content includes:

  • physical and health-related knowledge, such as components of fitness, training methods, training principles, nutrition, lifestyle, biomechanics, exercise physiology, issues in sport and first aid
  • aesthetic movement, such as gymnastics, aerobics, martial arts, jump rope, yoga or capoeira
  • team sports, such as football, basketball, handball, volleyball and hockey
  • individual sports, such as golf, athletics, swimming, squash or fencing
  • international sports and activities, including athletic traditions and forms of movement beyond students’ personal and cultural experiences.

Key Concepts in Physical and Health Education

Key concepts promote the development of a broad curriculum. They represent big ideas that are both relevant within and across disciplines and subjects. Inquiry into key concepts can facilitate connections between and among:

  • courses within the physical and health education subject group (intra-disciplinary learning)
  • other subject groups (interdisciplinary learning).

Below are listed concepts to be explored across the MYP. The key concepts contributed by the study of physical and health education are changecommunication and relationships.


Global interactions



Time, place and space


Related Concepts in Health and Physical Education

Related concepts promote deep learning. They are grounded in specific disciplines and are useful for exploring key concepts in greater detail. Inquiry into related concepts helps students develop more complex and sophisticated conceptual understanding. Related concepts may arise from the subject matter of a unit or the craft of a subject—its features and processes.


Adaptation is the adjustment or changing of a skill, technique, strategy, tactic, process or choice in order to enhance its suitability to meet the needs of a situation or application. Adaptation may need to occur as a result of: environmental influences, feedback (internal and external), player interactions, team interactions and the outcomes of choices.


Balance is a state of equilibrium between contrasting, opposing, or interacting factors. Balance can occur in many forms, such as the aesthetically pleasing integration of elements in movement routines, the team stability provided by the even distribution of player roles, as a means of judging and deciding upon lifestyle choices, or by placing equal importance on each dimension of health.


Choice involves making a decision between at least two alternatives, knowing that, in making a choice, we will have to go without the other(s). Choices should be made by evaluating the situation and considering the resources available. Depending on the situation some choices will need to be decided upon quickly; such as choices required during game play. Other choices allow for longer periods of consideration; such as choices made in relation to nutrition or fitness development.


Energy is a fundamental entity that is transferred between parts of a system in the production of change within the system. It is the capacity for doing work and as such the amount and form of energy an individual requires is dependent on the task(s) they are completing. The restoration of an individual’s energy levels is determined by a variety of factors such as rest, nutritional intake and time. Energy levels influence all aspects of human life, from our ability to think and make effective choices, to our ability to be physically active.


Environment refers to the circumstances, objects, or conditions by which an individual is surrounded. The effective performance of techniques, skills, strategies and tactics are influenced by environmental factors. Performers must understand environmental influences in order to be successful. An environment does not have to be physical. The digital environment, especially social media, has a significant impact on personal, mental, emotional and social health.


A function is the action or role that something is specifically designed for or used to do. Functions can be voluntary or involuntary. A function can be part of a group of related actions that contribute to a larger action, such as the function of the heart contributing to the overall health of the human body, or the function of a setter in a volleyball team who is responsible for orchestrating their team’s offence. A variety of factors can influence the choice and effectiveness of specific functions.


An interaction is the result of two or more objects, groups or ideas affecting each other. Interactions can occur in a variety of forms, such as verbally, physically and digitally. Depending on their nature, successful interactions can contribute to improved personal, social and performance outcomes.


Movement refers to the types and ways in which objects move. Sporting movements are normally divided into two categories: offensive (attacking) and defensive; however, various degrees occur within these two categories. Movement can also occur in relation to thoughts and ideas, a type of movement that relies on people aligning their thinking with others in relation to a specific cause or ideal.


Perspective enables the development of different interpretations, understandings and findings. Perspective can be gained through putting yourself in the place of others and striving to understand their opinions and disposition. People gain perspective by listening to others and considering the ways in which their points of view align or differ. Seeking and considering multiple perspectives is crucial to personal, mental and social health development, as well as to our ability to develop effective sporting techniques, tactics and strategies.


Refinement is the process of modifying something to enhance its overall effectiveness. Refinement can occur in relation to personal behaviours, thought processes, techniques, tactics and strategies. Refinements are made based on internal and/or external feedback.


Space refers to the physical dimensions of a playing or performance area (for example, a badminton court), the distance between people or objects (for example offensive and defensive lines in field sports), and the opportunity to experience something (for example, space to discover identity). Space can be created, adapted, determined, used, taken, won and lost; therefore “space” is rarely absolute.


Systems are sets of interacting or interdependent components that form an integrated whole. All individuals and communities rely on multiple systems working together to provide the structure and processes that they need in order to function effectively. Effective game play relies on participants’ understanding of multiple systems, including their components and interaction. Systems are often dynamic; they frequently need to be adapted to meet changing circumstances.

Objectives for Health and Physical Education

A. Knowing and understanding

Students develop knowledge and understanding about health and physical activity in order to identify and solve problems.

In order to reach the aims of physical and health education, students should be able to:

  1. explain physical and health education factual, procedural and conceptual knowledge
  2. apply physical and health education knowledge to analyse issues and solve problems set in familiar and unfamiliar situations
  3. apply physical and health terminology effectively to communicate understanding.

B. Planning for performance

Students through inquiry design, analyse, evaluate and perform a plan in order to improve performance in physical and health education.

In order to reach the aims of physical and health education, students should be able to:

  1. design, explain and justify a plan to improve physical performance and health
  2. analyse and evaluate the effectiveness of a plan based on the outcome.

C. Applying and performing

Students develop and apply practical skills, techniques, strategies and movement concepts through their participation in a variety of physical activities.

In order to reach the aims of physical and health education, students should be able to:

  1. demonstrate and apply a range of skills and techniques effectively
  2. demonstrate and apply a range of strategies and movement concepts effectively
  3. analyse and apply information to perform effectively.

D. Reflecting and improving performance

Students enhance their personal and social development, set goals, take responsible action and reflect on their performance and the performance of others.

In order to reach the aims of physical and health education, students should be able to:

  1. explain and demonstrate strategies that enhance interpersonal skills
  2. develop goals and apply strategies to enhance performance
  3. analyse and evaluate performance.

Information on these pages is from the MYP Subject Guides and the MYP Project Guide. International Baccalaureate Organization. 2014. Print.