Should Physical Education and Health courses be required?

Erin, Staff Writer

Many teenagers have memories of participating in active activities in elementary school whether gym class, recess, or the famous field days at the end of the year. Without these opportunities, many beneficial and memory-making experiences cease to exist.

Senior, Nicole Bahry, reminisced about her years in elementary school, discussing  physical education and health courses, saying, “Learning how to take care of yourself and staying healthy is very important.” She continued to explain, “I am very glad that I was required to take physical education and health courses throughout school because it exposed me to the reality of major health concerns.” Nicole also mentioned many fun memories from elementary school gym class, such as her favorite, playing soccer with the kids in her class.

The merriment in these activities accompany a great deal of learning and development that follows them throughout their years. It is not just an opinion that parents have that physical activity results in improved overall health for children. Voice Action Center, an organization that gives kids a voice and expresses a passion for keeping kids active and healthy, makes it a priority to emphasize the importance of physical education in elementary schools. They included in their article that, “Regular physical activity is associated with a healthier, longer life and with a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, mental health problems, and even some cancers” as well as stating, “Studies have shown that active children perform better in school, behave better in the classroom, and have a greater ability to focus.”

These courses come with health benefits that kids would receive all the way through high school, but it also provides an experience that some may not have otherwise. In elementary school, some kids may have not enjoyed the games of basketball, soccer, or kickball, but they come into the awareness of whether or not they enjoy sports at all or whether they possess a specific skill.  For example, if they participated in a football unit they did not enjoy, then came to love tennis unit, they recognize that they have found a new interest. 

This realization is hard to find outside of school. Many do not have time to play sports outside of school so this provides them with time to develop their skills. Physical education and health teacher, Melissa Bratina, says, “As for physical education, most students do not exercise on their own, so PE is their only time to exercise.  They also learn skills for lifelong fitness so that when they do graduate, they know what to do in order to take care of themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally.”

A Harvard news article noted that “Almost seven in 10 parents say their child’s school does not provide daily physical education even though experts recommend 150 to 225 minutes per school week.” 

If physical education is a required course, kids receive more daily activity than if it were not a course they would take. This makes it easier to reach the recommended minutes of daily activity. Also, health classes nowadays in schools, seem to hold more popularity, mainly in middle schools. These classes teach about the best health choices, covering the topics of drugs, alcohol, and abstinence. 

Stress, mental health, drugs and alcohol, sex and sexuality, decision making, bullying, relationships, violence, and suicide;  these topics give students the skills necessary of reality to live the healthiest and most productive lives possible,” Bratina adds. 

She continues to give important points that shows the views of parents, stating, “We can not enjoy life if we don’t know how to deal with stress, how to communicate and have healthy relationships, how to work with others, how to make safe decisions when it comes to drugs, alcohol, and sex, how to eat well, and how to exercise.”

She carries on with, “If we want our kids to grow up productive, happy, and successful, they need to know how to take care of themselves and be the healthiest they can possibly be.” 

Without physical education and health courses, the development of many learning opportunities as well as memories could not form, and in society itself, with so many distractions, due to the increase in technology and other pressures, it is a loss we cannot afford.