Where’s the physical education in school?

No P.E. course? No health course? Isn’t basic academic health knowledge learned in school?

How do some school curricula for our future generations not include any of these courses? Where is a student expected to learn they need at least an hour of daily exercise?

Or the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercises? Preparing students for a future career should not only focus on technical skills to be applied in their jobs.

This training should also include information to develop a healthy lifestyle, including physical activity.

Coming from a public school with required PE courses and multiple sports to engage in, I experienced first-hand the benefits of physical activity. I played sports as soon as Veterans Middle School allowed me and never stopped since.

I began with volleyball and basketball, then soccer and crosscountry as well as track and ended in tennis. I played everything my friends did.

Once I found my favorite, I couldn’t stop playing it. I graduated high-school ranked 6th in my class, with a 1st place district champion tennis medal and the Bill Gates Scholarship.

Academic excellence and sport competition worked hand-in-hand for me. Sports helped me develop my team-working skills, sportsmanship, perseverance and timemanagement skills that allowed me to sustain my academic accomplishments.

So many changes have occurred since I went to high school.

The academic advancement is incredible, with more college courses being offered and internship opportunities. However, the diminished courses on physical activity in adolescent curriculum is unbelievable.

My niece was a cheerleader in previous schools and is now that is not even an option. Unfortunately,

there were no required PE courses or free sports to engage in at her school. The rigorous academic school work surely causes stress to most students at some point, especially during midterms.

No class in her required curricula offered a physical outlet to channel this stress. No theatre or dance class.

Physically active students tend to have better grades, cognitive performance, and school attendance.

Yet, very few adolescents (21.6%) in the United States meet the CDC recommendations of an hour of daily activity.

Some fault lies in the students’ motivation but some schools do not offer free access to any physical activity opportunities. Participating in a quality physical education program can increase the likelihood of adolescents forming lifelong habits that can help prevent chronic conditions such as diabetes.

The leading causes of death have shifted from infectious to chronic diseases which include preventable cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

These diseases have been strongly associated with unhealthy lifestyle behaviors such as inappropriate nutrition and lack of exercise.

I try to inform my niece about the dangers of diabetes but I am not always there. There is only so much family can do with the few hours spent at home, but schools have a unique favorable position to impact our students.

Schools need to know we want them to provide adequate physical education. We need you to: 1. Be informed about the opportunities for physical engagement at your child’s school.

2. Request participation with local free events such as the McAllen Kids Marathon!

Students spend a lot of time in school and parents seek notable academies where they expect all their needs to be met.

Show them you believe school curriculum needs courses addressing adolescents’ daily exercise needs. Show them you care about the quality education your students are receiving.

Noelia Flores Donna