More time in phys ed classes doesn’t make students slimmer or fitter, a new study finds. A third of high school students took daily PE classes in 2005, down from 42 percent in 1991. Some states are boosting PE requirements to fight the obesity epidemic: About a third of young Americans are overweight or at risk of crossing the line. But PE doesn’t seem to get kids moving, much less reducing.
(Researchers) found that when states required an extra year of PE for high school students, which is roughly 200 more minutes a week of physical education:
• Male students said they spent another 7.6 minutes a week exercising or playing sports in gym class.
• Female students spent an extra eight minutes and six seconds a week doing exercise in PE.
The study found that girls who exercise more in school cut back their physical activity outside of school, especially the girls who are least active to start with.
Boosting PE time has no effect on teens’ weight, apparently because some schools don’t comply with the PE rules and some PE teachers don’t keep students moving during class. I wonder if schools are dumping “health” (sex ed, drugs, etc.) requirements on PE teachers to free classroom teachers’ time.
Elementary PE classes are even less physical:
. . . research on elementary school students in a county in Texas showed that the children did moderate to vigorous activity for 3.4 minutes of a 40-minute class. About two-thirds of class time was spent in sedentary activity; one-quarter of the time was spent doing minimal activity.
Education Next will have a story on the study in the fall issue, which will be out soon.