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The BluePrint Online

The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

PE—pretty essential

For+many+students%2C+physical+education+credits+are+just+another+task+on+their+to-do+list+for+graduation.+However%2C+PE+is+a+necessary+class+for+students+to+encourage+healthy+habits+for+later+in+life.
photo by Areli Smith
For many students, physical education credits are just another task on their to-do list for graduation. However, PE is a necessary class for students to encourage healthy habits for later in life.

Any person living in the United States is familiar with the country’s rising obesity rates. The same way they are familiar with seeing a McDonald’s or Burger King around every corner. And the same way they are familiar with the frustration of their favorite city being completely and miserably “un-walkable”. 

For many years, it has been unanimously recognized that people don’t become overweight or obese overnight. Instead, it’s the result of unhealthy habits that accumulate little by little each day and are never corrected down the long road, thus why physical education classes for school-aged children were implemented around the 19th century––and even date all the way back to ancient Greece! 

The requirements for PE classes in Florida, however, wither down starting in middle school, where students have the option to choose between a required semester of PE or an optional extended full year of PE. In high school, students are only required to complete one PE credit for graduation. A freshman could take one semester of yoga to earn their half credit, then another semester of physical fitness to earn another half credit, then be done with any and all PE courses for the next three years of high school. This, however, is anything but enough. Full-year PE classes should be required for all high school students—and for every year of high school. 

The CDC recommends 1 hour of daily exercise for adolescents. In a 2019 survey, only 23.2% of high schoolers met the recommended daily activity hour. That statistic alone shouldn’t surprise high schoolers, but should cause concern to parents, teachers, the Florida Department of Education and Florida lawmakers. Personally, the most exercise I could squeeze into a school day was a mere 20-minute stroll around the neighborhood—which again—is nowhere near the recommended time and intensity.  

High schoolers are busy people. Some have homework, some are employed, some are busy studying, some regularly attend after-school clubs and others are busy completing chores at home. Whatever the case, time is limited. For most students, the only time they will have to squeeze in a daily exercise is if they have a PE class that day. 

For people like me, who have overweight or borderline obese parents, the risk of becoming an obese adult rises to an astounding 80% due to being brought up in a household where healthy eating habits and exercise aren’t taught nor valued. So for people like me, PE classes in school are the wall that separates us from our family’s poor choices. It is what teaches us the value of developing healthy lifestyle habits well into adulthood, as well as what gives us the choice to dictate our own life rather than naturally absorb and replicate what our parents do.

Some may argue that PE classes make students nervous or anxious by making them insecure in their athletic ability in a physically competitive environment. Though this may hold some truth, exercise actually reduces stress hormones and releases endorphins, therefore improving the mood of students and eliminating stress and anxiety. Studies also show that PE classes are linked with a better academic performance due to increased concentration. 

We can’t rebuild and remodel every single city from scratch to be more walkable. We can’t put a halt to the rising fast food industry. We can’t tell millions of adult Americans to suddenly change their lifestyle. However, what we can do is ensure that all students ]are fully taught the importance of nutrition and exercise in order to prevent those unhealthy lifestyle choices and habits from developing in the first place. The Florida Department of Education must take action to adjust the curriculum for PE classes—but in order for that to happen, we as a state and people must take action.

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About the Contributor
Areli Smith, Staff Illustrator
Areli Smith is a senior at Hagerty High School and this is her fourth year in digital design. She has always been drawn to illustration which led her to getting involved in creating illustrations for HHS Blueprint. Her passions for art are shown with her membership in National Art Honor society and her involvement in multiple murals around the school.
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