By Claire Gearhart
Illinois is one of only six states that requires their students to take some form of physical education every year from kindergarten through senior year of high school, according to Time magazine.
“The fact that kids are being deprived of physical education in school is unacceptable, especially in a nation suffering from a childhood obesity epidemic,” American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said in a statement to the Huffington Post.
But Brown isn’t the student who has to suffer through forced participation in a class because if she didn’t, it would lower her GPA. Making gym a required class trains students to associate working out with stress, prevents them from working their best in their out-of-school sports, and subjects high school students to the same dull material they’ve been learning since middle school.
When physical education is a required class for high schoolers it can make students have an antagonistic approach towards being fit. When students are forced to do a certain exercise and they don’t like it, that puts a negative connotation in their mind towards working out and makes them miserable in the class. More students learn to not like gym and working out, rather than really putting forth the right amount of effort to better themselves and their bodies. When students are able to choose the class as a part of their schedule, they are able to make the conscious decision to decide to try in the class and learn from it.
Physical education can also prevent student-athletes from being able to perform their best in their sport. When students are forced to participate in a class where the goal is to tire them out and make sure they’re getting a sufficient amount of exercise, it can become a problem when these students then go and work out after school and are expected to give it their all. It’s especially grueling when these students have to do a hard workout in both gym and their sport and come home exhausted.
A study done by Switzerland’s Institute of Social and Preventative Medicine in Lausanne found that too much exercise is as bad for a teen as too little. This means after a long day of being challenged both academically and physically they’re expected to go home and work on their hours of homework till late into the night, then wake up again early next morning and do it again. And while not all students participate in an after-school sport, a big majority do. It should be a student’s decision whether or not they want to participate in a class when it affects their health and their own body. Quitting a sport isn’t an option. Then, students would have to give up something they enjoy, and these types of extracurricular activities are specifically what colleges look for in applicants.
Finally, pupils attending gym classes are learning the same redundant information they’ve been learning since they started middle school. As the curriculum for physical education classes is the same from middle school to high school, students aren’t receiving any particularly new information about being healthy throughout the years. While topics may be discussed in more detail, the information is generally the same from the time a student hits sixth grade all the way until they graduate.
In conclusion, students in high school shouldn’t be forced to take a physical education class. Not when an adult with an agenda, whose GPA isn’t affected by participating in the class, decided that these near adults need to be coached into how to take care and responsibility of their own bodies. Especially not when the class can negatively other aspects of their lives.