Improve Physical Education Programs in U.S. Schools

ND Strupler

Target: U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs

Goal: Increase physical education for U.S. students to combat childhood obesity.

Roughly one-third of children and adolescents in America are overweight or obese. This staggering rate correlates closely with a lack of regular exercise, a serious problem for today’s youth. Unfortunately, schools are not contributing to this area of our children’s education, as is apparent in school mandates that require physical education far below the recommended hours. A recent study revealed that only six U.S. states require appropriate levels of activity for elementary school children. Worse yet, only two states require appropriate levels for middle school, and no state meets the standard for high school. Our public school system teaches children how to use their brains, but ignores the rest of the body.

According to the National Association of Sport and Physical Education, students should receive 150 minutes of weekly physical education in elementary school and 225 minutes in middle and high school. Our schools fall far below this mark, with the average American student receiving only 70 minutes per week.  Parents are clearly not picking up the slack – a whopping 75% of children do not get regular exercise. Resulting weight issues introduce a wide array of health risks, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, bone and joint problems, and sleep apnea. In fact, the U.S. spends as much as $147 billion every year on obesity-related health costs. These numbers are only growing.

While we cannot force parents to provide adequate amounts of exercise for children, we can ensure that such healthy habits are formed during the school day.  By signing the petition below, you can ask the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs to require that our nation’s schools mandate recommended levels of physical education.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs,

One in every three children in our country is overweight or obese. This figure closely relates to the increasingly sedentary lifestyle of our children, only 25% of whom receive regular exercise. While we cannot force parents to create more active lifestyles for their children, we can intervene through the school system by offering physical education that inspires healthier lifestyles in our youth. Unfortunately, this is not an opportunity that we as a country have embraced. According to the National Association of Sport and Physical Education, students should receive 150 minutes of weekly physical education in elementary school and 225 minutes in middle and high school. The average American student, however, receives only 70 minutes per week.

It’s no secret that inactive lifestyles contribute to the serious obesity levels in our population. Obesity causes cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other serious health problems that cost our country an estimated $174 billion annually in health costs. The lifestyle choices that increase obesity rates every year are shaped during childhood. It is the responsibility of our public education system to teach our children how to live healthy and successful lives. Please mandate that our nation’s schools provide recommended levels of physical education for students.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: ND Strupler via Flickr.

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One Comment

  1. Physical activity must become a way of life for optimum well being and should be part of every child’s education.

  2. Luisa Meyer says:

    Mens Sana in Corpore Sano. We need a healthy body to better learn and to grow as a whole person.

  3. Gwen Smith says:

    Quality Physical Education, which means having Licensed, Certified Physical Education teachers; implementing a K-12 progressive and sequential, developmentally appropriate curriculum; provided with the same quality professional development as other content area teachers, enabling cross curricular connections/curriculum integration, will result in HEALTHIER STUDENTS WHO ARE BETTER LEARNERS.

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