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Physical Activity and Academic Performance

Physical Activity and Academic Performance

Research on physical activity and academic performance illustrates a clear correlation between the two. Students that are more physically active do better in school. Have the writers at Paper Masters custom write research that illustrates the statistics and facts behind this notion.

It is no longer a secret that American children are unhealthier than ever before. The past two decades have witnessed an unprecedented rise in the rates of children who are considered overweight or obese.

  • Among children of elementary school age, over 15% are considered overweight, while 31% are at risk.
  • Middle school and high school students fare no better, with 16% overweight and 30% at risk.

Multiple factors have contributed to this unnerving trend:

  1. The rise of the junk food culture.
  2. Video games that curtail physical exercise during playtime.
  3. Urban sprawl leading to less need to walk somewhere and a dependence on automobile travel.
  4. A major contributor to the problem, however, has been the education system itself.

Physical education has undergone an assault from administrators from which it may never recover. In addition to cutting funding for equipment and programs, many school systems have cut back on the number of P.E. classes each student must take. A 2003 study found that only slightly more than half of high school students took a P.E. class and only half of those students attended P.E. classes daily. Attendance is no guarantee of exercise, however; the same study found that only 80% of high school students reported they active for at least twenty minutes during the class.

A disparity also exists between mandates at the state and local levels. Physical education classes are required by all states, though the requirements are not uniform. For instance, on average, while 85% of states mandate P.E. at the middle school level, only 78% of states mandate P.E at the elementary school level. The mandate for high school P.E. falls somewhere between. Although anything less than 100% of state mandated P.E. seems to fall short, these levels are impressive when compared to the figures at the local level. The mandate for P.E. classes is for either daily classes or a comparable weekly amount of time, yet at every level of schooling less than 10% of school meet those requirements. In fact, the number of high schools was nearly half that, at just 5.8%. Part of the problem is that P.E. class is typically targeted for exemptions for such things as standardized testing, spectator sports, field trips and community programs.

A report by the US Dept. of Education in 1986 uncovered research from various countries that offered proof that physical education contributed tangibly to academic learning (First Lessons: A Report on Elementary Education in America). And yet P.E. class time has been systematically reduced since then. Most of studies conducted that have searched for a correlation between physical education and academic achievement have found evidence that a connection does exist. Despite these findings and even more anecdotal evidence supporting the same proposition, schools in America have been focusing on less physical education and not more.

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