According to the Surgeon General, engaging in consistent physical activity is an important step to improving individual health. Physical activity not only strengthens bones and muscles, but also reduces stress and depression, and makes it easier to maintain a healthy body weight. For the heart, substantial benefits from regular physical activity include lower rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.
As such, the American Heart Association supports efforts to require 150 minutes per week of physical education in elementary schools and 225 minutes per week of physical education in middle school. Making sure all children have access to physical education is an important step in reducing childhood obesity and giving young Americans the tools to fight heart disease.
40 states have requirements on elementary schools to provide physical education instruction. 39 states require middle school physical education, and 43 states have high school requirements. In all, 46 states have physical education requirements at various grade levels.
Physical education not only makes kids more active, but also helps kids thrive academically. According to a study published by the American Heart Association, physical education is an integral part of developing the “whole” child and has shown to have positive impacts on cognitive abilities, tobacco avoidance, reductions in depression and anxiety, and test scores.
95% of parents believe physical education should be part of a school curriculum for all students in grades K-12.