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When it comes to PE, Arizona has very few requirements for students. It’s no secret that America is overweight. Compared to other countries, we may very well be the most obese country on the planet. Physical activity, or lack thereof, is certainly one of the many contributing factors to obesity. As

Apr 06, 2017

When it comes to PE, Arizona has very few requirements for students.


It’s no secret that America is overweight. Compared to other countries, we may very well be the most obese country on the planet. Physical activity, or lack thereof, is certainly one of the many contributing factors to obesity. As with other life skills, our students should be learning important health patterns in the classroom through evidence-based instruction.

Physical Activity and Physical Education

There’s an important difference between physical activity and physical education. Some people may argue that our kids get enough exercise from sports and other physical activity. However, physical education is so much more than simply “staying active.”

Physical activity is bodily movement of any type and can include recreational, fitness, or sport activities. Physical education, rather, is a planned, sequential, standards-based program with written curricula and appropriate instruction. This programming is designed to develop motor skills, knowledge, and behaviors of active living, physical fitness, sportsmanship, self-efficacy, and emotional intelligence. Clearly, physical education does so much more than just get kids moving.

The Current State of Physical Education in Arizona

Unfortunately, physical education in Arizona has few guidelines or regulations. With so little required of our students, they miss out on the benefits of a robust physical education program. Currently, the state of Arizona:

  • Requires students to demonstrate competency in health/physical education, but does not specify grade levels, minutes per week, or a requirement for high school graduation

  • Does not annually assess the availability of equipment and facilities

  • Does not have a requirement for physical education credits to graduate

  • Does not require elementary schools to provide daily recess

  • Has no requirement for minimum weekly amount of physical activity for K-12 students

  • Requires schools to provide their local school wellness policy to the state education agency

  • Does not monitor the implementation of local school wellness policies


Benefits of Physical Education

Why does any of this matter? Because our students grow and learn from physical education! (But you already knew that.) Evidence-based physical education increases our students’ physical activity in a safe, supervised, and structured environment. It also trains them in the knowledge and skills they need to live a physically active lifestyle.

There is a body of research that supports the benefits of regular physical activity. These benefits include improved physical, mental, and cognitive health. There is growing evidence suggesting that physical activity enriches cognitive development and lifelong brain health. What’s even better: Studies suggest higher scholastic performance for active students.

So, is physical education just good for the body? Nope — it’s good for the brain too.

There are ways to integrate physical activity into any curriculum. See how this teacher adds yoga to her lessons!

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