An Introduction to the History of Physical Education in America

Today, from research and the use of new technology, we know that an active body is good for an active mind. Unfortunately schools today, due to budget cuts and time constraints, are cutting PE programs and recess time. By taking away these programs, the US board of education isn’t doing its job properly, depriving students of an important educational matter. This is an especially big issue today because of the US’s growing obesity rate.

Coming from a private school, physical education was somewhat important in my school.

I went to the same school from first grade until graduation, and the amount of physical activity students were required to do varied for elementary, junior high, and high school students. In elementary school, we had gym and a 45 minute recess every day. In gym we played different sports, different forms of tag, and dodgeball. During recess, we were allowed to run around, play different games with a tennis ball, and play on the school’s playground.

While health was not taught in elementary school, we were always encouraged to be active.

In junior high school, physically activity was undervalued. While we had gym twice a week, we only had a 10 minute recess every day. The playground was located about 5 minutes away from classes, so it was almost impossible to get there and back and still have enough time to play on it. We had health classes that taught us about sexuality and fitness, but actual physical activity was not an important issue to the school.

Get quality help now
Sweet V

Proficient in: Health And Fitness

4.9 (984)

“ Ok, let me say I’m extremely satisfy with the result while it was a last minute thing. I really enjoy the effort put in. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

In highschool we did not have any recess’s. However, if we had a period where we did not have a class, we were able to do what we wanted with our time. While the gym was sometimes open during these periods, physical education was not encouraged. Instead we were recommended to study and get our homework done. The school- year was broken into trimesters, and if we were not playing a sport during the trimester, we had a physical education class twice a week. In that class we played different sports and active games. We also had health classes, but they taught us about CPR and sexual education rather than the importance of physical fitness.

While my school allowed and sometimes encouraged physical activity, it was not seen as a priority. Even though every student needed “sports credits” to pass high school, our school was a lot more focused on the academic education of students. In high school I was a part of my school’s musicals. While we engaged in as much physical activity as an athlete, we were not able to receive any credits for our efforts. This shows that my school did not care as much about being physically fit over the competitiveness of athletics.

Physical education is undervalued in schools and a student’s health is not always a priority. This is shown in our country where, “Only 6 states (…) require physical education in every grade, K-12”. Even with all the information and research we have on health and how it affects our ability to learn, academic education always triumphs over physical education. An example of a school’s focus on academics over health is the starting time of schools. Doctors’ have said that a teenager needs about 8 hours of sleep per night. It is almost impossible to achieve this goal when attending school.

The amount of homework a student has after school varies, but usually will take a couple hours to complete. Add to that the time it takes for a student to eat dinner, do chores, practice hygiene, and various other necessities and tasks the student needs to complete that day. A student will always have to go to bed late because of all the things he needs to do, which would be fine if the student could sleep in. With the early starting times of schools students’ are unable to sleep in, therefore they are constantly lacking sleep, which affects their ability to learn. However, this issue is never addressed by schools.

In today’s society, especially in the United states, it is important to emphasize exercising and healthy eating. Due to the USA’s rapidly increasing obesity rates it is important to teach children how to live healthy lives by educating them about health. It is even more important to start this education at a young age. Studies have shown that, “regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression and may help you sleep better”.

By teaching young children how to eat healthy and exercise, they will be able to use that knowledge throughout their entire life. It is also important to keep recess in schools. Having recess gives children an opportunity to stay active and healthy. It also allows children to let out energy that would normally build up in a classroom and cause chaos. Keeping kids active and educating them about the benefits of good nutrition and exercise will help prevent many health risks later in life. It will also have a positive impact on the obesity rate in the USA.

Academic education, while being very important, takes over schools’ curriculums and restrains students from enjoying and experiencing other important parts of life. If we shift schools’ focuses from just academics to all important aspects of a young adults life, then we can have a healthier society. This would allow the upbringing of healthier children. With obesity being a constant issue in America, we have to change our ways in order to reduce the health risks of an average American and breed a healthy society.

Cite this page

An Introduction to the History of Physical Education in America. (2023, Mar 17). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7