Are Students Getting the Proper Physical Education They Need?

Zak Parchen

Overweight and obesity in children is at an all time high in America, and schools are doing little to help resolve this issue. In California, high schools and middle schools only require two years of physical education. Elementary schools require just over twenty minutes a day of physical activities. Even worse, 22% of all schools in the United States do not require students to take physical fitness.

In children ages 10-17, about 31.1% are either overweight or obese. Looking at society nowadays, with the busy lifestyles, the having no time to exercise or do a sport, buying fast food than something fresh as it is much cheaper, being on their computers and watching television for hours a day, 31.1% is not a shocking number. However, it is a problem that must be dealt with and schools are the perfect place to start.

Physical education allows for the necessary daily physical activity time to be met, which is a huge step in the right direction to combating the issue of the increasing number of children becoming overweight and obese.  It makes room in a person’s busy schedule for activity that they would not get otherwise.

Budget cuts on education are having a large toll on that of physical education classes, especially after the 2013 sequester, cutting about $3 billion from education. Common trends from budget cuts typically hit art and physical education classes the hardest, causing staff to decline and class sizes to rise, with some schools having eighty or more students in a single physical education class. Inevitably, there is a great loss of the ability of a teacher to work with a student individually, having to deal with forty plus other students.

However, Birmingham can solve this issue of lacking physical activity on campus. The school has the ability to increase the required physical education needed to graduate, therefore getting students the physical activity they need, as well as promoting a healthy lifestyle for their futures. However, as nice as this sounds, requiring physical education courses through all of high school will cause budget issues as there are not enough teachers to incorporate all of the eleventh and twelfth grade in their classes, as it would cause class sizes to become extremely high, potentially doubling current class sizes.

The dwindling effectiveness of physical education classes is the result of mainly politics, and more specifically, politicians trying to save as much money as they can; even though, it ends up harming the youth of America. With the number of overweight and obese children always increasing,  the numbers will likely not stop increasing unless funding is increased for more physical education standards.

On top of there not being enough years of physical education provided, the class times for kindergarten through fifth to sixth grade are not long enough.  For middle and high school students, about forty minutes of activity time per day, sixty minutes being the recommended, is reasonable for a physical education class, taking into consideration the length of class periods and the time needed to change into the appropriate clothing for class. Yet in the earlier grades, twenty minutes a day is far too little. The minimal amount of activity has a cumulative effect in the future for when students enter the higher grades of physical education classes. There is difficulty adjusting to the increased amount of exercise. Studies prove that when people are more physically active at younger ages it typically leads to a more physically active lifestyle in the future. By not getting enough physical education in early grades, students are being denied the foundations of a healthy lifestyle.