Physical education should be a mandatory class for all four years of high school

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Physical education should be a mandatory class for all four years of high school

Christopher Song

 

This country has a health problem. It’s common knowledge that there is almost a 33% obesity rate in children according to the American Heart Organization, and many solutions have been offered to address the epidemic. MVHS replaced many of its more unhealthy foods in the cafeteria with healthier alternatives four years ago and substituted fruit juice for the soda in the vending machines with fruit juice.  However, there is another solution that has yet be enacted, one that is largely controversial due to the academic nature of MVHS: mandatory Physical Education classes for all four years.

P.E. classes provide a way for students to get some exercise, whether it be playing soccer or lifting weights. In addition to keeping students fit, P.E. also helps students in the classroom. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention physical education classes increase test scores and students’ focus. As is currently the norm sports would still grant P.E. credit, meaning that two seasons of a sport would replace one year of P.E. This provides a choice to the students to either explore new activities or to pursue one or several sports they are passionate about while still ensuring that everyone is getting their daily exercise.

It is a common complaint, however, that much of P.E. class is downtime with no physical activity happening at all, or that some units such as yoga are not enjoyable and do not keep students fit. These complaints have some merit, but they are not targeted towards the idea of P.E. classes but rather the current implementation of these classes.  By increasing student participation and teaching units that are more relevant to students’ interests, P.E. can be made both more enjoyable and more effective as a means for exercise. This may be enacted by offering more choices to students in daily activities, ensuring that students are truly interested in the current sport or unit and will be more likely to give their full effort. Class time can also be made more efficient through better planning of the day’s activities allowing, students to make full use of their class time to play sports or exercise.

A solution requiring students to take four years of a class that provides no weight on their college applications is not without controversy, however. A school like MVHS is filled with students who would much rather pack their schedules full of AP classes than take P.E classes. However P.E. is more than just a class taken for credits. If taught and led correctly, P.E. provides a path towards a healthy lifestyle, something that is more important than any single AP class. According to the Mayo Clinic, physical activity also provides an excellent source for stress relief, something that students at MVHS could definitely use. Although many would disagree with the idea of having to take P.E. for the entire length of high school, P.E. would provide a healthier lifestyle while at school and for the rest of their lives.