Physical education should be a ‘core’ subject: Institute of Medicine
Submitted by ms_admin on Sat, 07/27/2013 - 10:55
A new report by the prestigious Institute of Medicine says that the U.S. Education Department should designate physical education as a core subject, just like math and English, to help confront a “pandemic” of physical inactivity that has contributed to a critical national health challenge.
The report, titled “Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School,” says that even though quality physical education has been shown to be beneficial to students, it has become increasingly difficult for schools to provide it. The authors cite as obstacles budget cuts — which have resulted in teacher layoffs and a lack of equipment and other resources — as well as policy pressures that have led schools to increase classroom time for standardized test preparation.
Nearly half (44 percent) of school administrators report cutting significant amounts of time from physical education, arts, and recess to increase time in reading and mathematics since passage of the No Child Left Behind legislation in 2001. These challenges have been cited as the reasons why the percentage of schools offering physical education daily or at least 3 days each week declined dramatically in U.S. schools between 2000 and 2006.
It also says that factors leading to increased inactivity include
increased reliance on nonactive transportation, automation of activities of daily living, and greater opportunities for sedentary behavior.
While definitive data are not available, it says, the best estimate is that only about half of young people in the United States meet the current guideline of at least 60 minutes of vigorous or moderate-intensity physical activity daily.
The report was issued by the U.S. Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, which was chartered in 1863 and has expanded into what is collectively known as the National Academies, which comprises the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine.
It says that schools should provide at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily for students, including an average of 30 minutes each day in phys ed class for all elementary school students and an average of 45 minutes per day for all middle- and high-school students.
The consequences of inactivity are very real, the report says.
A lack of activity increases the risk of heart disease, colon and breast cancer, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, osteoporosis, anxiety and depression, and other diseases. Recent studies have found that in terms of mortality, the global population health burden of physical inactivity approaches that of cigarette smoking and obesity. Indeed, the prevalence of physical inactivity, along with this substantial associated disease risk, has been described as a pandemic.
The report says the Department of Education should designate physical education as a “core subject,” saying that
Physical education in school is the only sure opportunity for all school-aged students to access health-enhancing physical activity and the only school subject area that provides education to ensure that students develop knowledge, skills, and motivation to engage in health-enhancing physical activity for life.
Here are all of the recommendations, taken from proofs of the report:
* Recommendation 1: District and school administrators, teachers, and parents should advocate for and create a whole-of-school approach to physical activity that fosters and provides access in the school environment to at least 60 minutes per day of vigorous or moderate-intensity physical activity more than half (>50 percent) of which should be accomplished during regular school hours.