There’s no doubt about it: Exercise is critical for young people. It’s key to strengthening both bodies and minds, which are still developing throughout the teen years. Health experts say kids ages 6 to 17 need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every single day. Yet research shows that most middle and high school students are falling far short of that goal.
One reason, some people say, is that many schools have cut back on physical education (PE) to increase in-class learning time or to save money—or both. Though PE used to be a daily requirement in many schools, teens today often attend gym class just once a week, if at all.
Hoping to improve kids’ health, many people have begun calling for schools to beef up their PE requirements. Getting students more physically active, they say, would go a long way toward combating the rising rates of obesity, stress, and related illnesses among today’s teens.
But others say increasing physical education requirements isn’t likely to fix those problems. They argue that kids don’t actually get much exercise in gym class. Plus, they say, many schools are already struggling to help students fulfill academic requirements—which leaves little time for PE.