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Why Physical Education Classes Are Useless

Updated: May 14, 2021

Physical Education classes are supposed to encourage health and fitness from an early age, however, studies have recently shown that these classes have little to no effect on children. Today, Phys Ed. classes are viewed to address the increase in childhood obesity rates in Canada as it rose from 6.1% in 1985 to 18.3% in 2011. However, consider the case in Texas Fitness Now. A study claims that a 37 Million Dollar program that was implemented to curb childhood obesity has little to no effect.s in student fitness or at a value to middle school curriculums.

This study which was conducted through the 37 Million Dollar program I mentioned earlier provided low-income middle schools with money for fitness under the condition students attend Phys. Ed class for at least 30 mins per day. It found that the Phys. Ed requirement was actually counter-productive. It not only has little to no impact on fitness and academic achievement, but it also affects children’s discipline. They were more likely to be truant and more likely to act out. The theory to explain this phenomenon was that the changing rooms are an area that is usually unsupervised and is where the majority of bullying takes place in the school and by forcing students to go to these rooms, it could be that the students are bullying each other.

Besides, there was a staggering 7.4% increase in the proportion of students causing a disruption all related to adolescence. Middle School is when many offspring are self-conscious and feel ashamed of their weight, their inability to do an activity, their appearance, and many more factors all related to their teenagehood.

In 2018, researchers from Iowa State University in Ames asked over 1,000 Americans aged 18 to 45 about their memories and recollections of Phys. Ed class via an online poll. According to the authors of this study, the result was “vivid and emotionally charged memories of events that had transpired many years, even decades, earlier”. Thirty-four percent of all respondents reported feeling embarrassed by their childhood and teenagehood Phys. Ed class experience. According to Maclean’s Magazine, many of the poll submissions resonated with Canadian PE class survivors as well:

  • “being picked last in dodgeball”

  • “hit very hard with the [dodge] ball”

  • “being horrible in basketball”

  • “having to be weighed in class and my weight announced to the class”

  • “when we had to run a mile for time”

  • “I hated PE”

The next most frequent “worst memory” theme was lack of enjoyment in PE activities, reported by 18 percent. These kinds of trauma can impact children’s future and their adulthood. According to the senior author of this research, Panteleimon Ekkekakis, People’s gym-class memories “had some degree of influence on their self-perception and . . . the degree of their sedentariness.”

“We’re not saying the experiences are deterministic and that one negative experience is going to determine a person’s physical activity level for the rest of their life,” he said.

It can also affect their adulthood through other ways such as depression, anxiety, victimhood thinking, and passive-aggressiveness. Although this may not sound much, there is a high probability that it will cause long-term emotional damages.

According to a major study conducted by Cornell University, based on information from 37,000 secondary students and the responses from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it revealed that most students do not believe gym class is effective. Although many statistics have increased the time spent in PE class by students, Cornell's study found that adding 200 minutes to PE class produced little to no substantial changes.

One of the theories on why it did not produce any substantial changes was that “The rest of the extra gym time is likely spent being sedentary — most likely standing around idly while playing sports like softball or volleyball that don’t require constant movement”, said Cornell’s lead professor.

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