Study: Physical Education Is Failing

Childhood obesity is rising, yet physical education is rapidly declining.

physical education, schools, obesity
Time allotted for physical education is declining in schools across the country. (Photo: Alistair Berg)
Jenny Inglee is a Los Angeles-based journalist and the Education Editor at TakePart.

Physical education is severely lacking in our schools, according to a new study by University of Georgia kinesiology professor Bryan McCullick.

His findings show that elementary school kids are recommended to partake in 150 minutes of physical education each week, yet only six states mandate these guidelines set by The National Association of Sport and Physical Education.

Older kids are getting even less exercise during the school day. According to the study, "only two states mandate the appropriate amount of physical education instruction for middle school, and none require adequate physical education at the high school level, a weekly 225 minutes for both."

McCullick teaches at the University of Georgia College of Education and says his findings indicated that "statutes were written in a manner that did not explicitly mandate school-based physical education but rather recommended or suggested it." This can pose a problem, he explains in the study, because "a lack of mandates, or statues written too broadly to enforce with fidelity, lessen the likelihood that schools will adhere to the guidelines."

It doesn't help that recess time across the nation is also plummeting. According to Rhonda Clements, president for the American Association of the Child's Right to Play, "an estimated 40 percent of U.S. school districts either have eliminated recess or are considering eliminating it."

Physical education courses are often cut due to a lack of funding, and recess time is typically dropped so more time can be spent on the curriculum. The fact of the matter is that one third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese, and childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years.

Knowing these stats, do you feel physical education and recess time should be made more of a priority in our schools? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Jenny is the Education Editor at TakePart. She has been writing for TakePart since 2009 and previously worked in film and television development. She has taught English in Vietnam and tutors homeless children in Los Angeles. Email Jenny | @jennyinglee

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