Students more likely to be fit when physical education is mandatory

May 2, 2012 By Sharyn Alden, Contributing Writer, Health Behavior News Service

Fifth graders in California public school districts that comply with the state’s mandatory physical education requirement are more likely to have better fitness levels than students in districts that don’t comply, according to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

“Even though California has a law and monitors its compliance, our study revealed that many school districts are not providing the required physical education and too many children go to school in districts that do not comply with physical education laws,” said Emma V. Sanchez-Vaznaugh, Sc.D., the study’s lead author and assistant professor of health education at San Francisco State University.

Grade school children spend a large portion of their day in school, giving educators a unique opportunity to influence life-long health habits. Children who are less physically active are more likely to have poorer overall health and have an increased risk for obesity.

California has a law that makes physical education mandatory for students in grades 1 to 6, requiring that each student receive 200 minutes of physical education every 10 days. Of the 55 school districts for which compliance data were available, only half were compliant.

Researchers found that students in policy-compliant school districts were 29 percent more likely to be physically fit, as measured by performance on a 1-mile run or walk test, than students in noncompliant districts.

Researchers also noted that individual schools might be more apt to comply if there was adequate funding for physical education and to monitor school compliance.

Charles T. Cappetta, M.D., adjunct associate professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School and founder of Granite State FitKids, a child health promotion organization, said, “Mandates are tough to implement. They are nice in theory, but usually don’t work. Still, this policy is a start. Just saying ‘do it’ does not necessarily translate. You need to have an environment or culture in place that supports physical activity and exercise.”

Sanchez-Vaznaugh said, “Parents, educators, policy makers, schools and people involved in children’s health need to figure out how to help schools adhere to physical education laws so that our children can get the needed physical education while in school.”

Explore further: State laws mandating P.E., recess linked with increased in-school physical activity among children

Related Stories

State laws mandating P.E., recess linked with increased in-school physical activity among children

December 5, 2011
State and school district-level policies mandating minimum requirements for in-school physical education and recess time are associated with increased odds of schools in those states and districts meeting physical activity ...

Schools lose records; English learners pay

April 11, 2011
(PhysOrg.com) -- Poor recordkeeping keeps California schools from getting all of the funding that they have coming, a failing that especially hurts English learners, according to research from the University of California, ...

Calif. schools don't get kids moving

June 9, 2006
Just over half of California school districts that include elementary school students fail to provide an average of 20 minutes daily of physical activity.

Health officials want more PE in schools

August 23, 2006
The American Heart Association says U.S. schools are failing to provide enough exercise for school-age children who are growing fatter each year.

Charter schools no cure-all for black students, says study

April 12, 2012
(Phys.org) -- Despite being promoted as a viable alternative to traditional public schools, privately owned charter schools in Texas have higher attrition rates for black students than comparable urban public schools, says ...

States requiring PE, but amount varies

June 2, 2010
(AP) -- More states are requiring physical education for elementary, middle and high school students, though few require kids to exercise for a specific amount of time.

Recommended for you

One in four parents not prepared for 'parenting hangovers' this holiday season

December 17, 2018
Parents may plan for transportation and childcare ahead of holiday gatherings but are they prepared for a potential, day-after "parenting hangover?"

Teens get more sleep with later school start time, researchers find

December 12, 2018
When Seattle Public Schools announced that it would reorganize school start times across the district for the fall of 2016, the massive undertaking took more than a year to deploy. Elementary schools started earlier, while ...

Study highlights potential benefits of continuous EEG monitoring for infant patients

December 12, 2018
A recent retrospective study evaluating continuous electroencephalography (cEEG) of children in intensive care units (ICUs) found a higher than anticipated number of seizures. The work also identified several conditions closely ...

Scientists have identified and modelled a distinct biology for paediatric AML

December 11, 2018
Scientists have identified and modelled a distinct biology for paediatric acute myeloid leukaemia, one of the major causes of death in children.

Expert proposes method to help premature infants thrive in the hospital

December 11, 2018
Even when they're not actively feeding, infants are perpetually sucking on toys, pacifiers, their own fingers—whatever they can get ahold of.

Heavy screen time appears to impact childrens' brains: study

December 10, 2018
Researchers have found "different patterns" in brain scans among children who record heavy smart device and video game use, according to initial data from a major ongoing US study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.