When I attended public schools in the Chicagoland area (K-12), physical education was an important part of the school day. At least an hour of play time was structured into each day (two 15 minutes of recess and a 30 minute break following lunch).
We even had to go outside for recess on those cold winter days. In addition, all students attended gym class at least twice a week.
The results of a physical education task force in Illinois revealed that children who are more active—in P.E. class, throughout the school day and during recess-perform better in class and on standardized tests, exhibit better classroom behaviors and improve their health outcomes. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that young people aged 6–17 years participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily.
“The percentage of high school students [in the U.S.] who attended physical education classes daily decreased from 42% in 1991 to 25% in 1995 and remained stable at that level until 2013 (29%),” according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Although many states require P.E., Illinois was the first state in the nation to require daily P.E. for all K-12 students, according to an Illinois Board of Education Task Force.
Here at Women of the ELCA, we feel it is important to raise up healthy women and girls. As for me, I think it’s important to include physical education in schools. Where do you stand?
Deborah Calvert is associate executive director of Women of the ELCA.
U.S. Navy photo by mass communication specialist Seaman John Paul Kotara II. Used with permission.