Physical Education

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2009) states that seventeen percent of children age six to eleven are obese. One of the contributing factors in the rise in childhood obesity is the absence of physical activities in school; only twenty-eight percent of children participate in physical activities every day at school. Childhood obesity causes many severe health risks including stress, depression, low self-esteem, heart disease, asthma, and diabetes. Obese children are also seventy percent more likely to be obese as adults. It is important to prevent childhood obesity by teaching children the importance of a healthy lifestyle early. Because children spend most of their time at school, physical education is one of the most effective ways to stop obesity early and inspire students to live healthy lifestyles (, 2009). The California Department of Education has put in place standards and frameworks to ensure that students are receiving quality physical education in order to promote the development of a healthy lifestyle.

The California Department of Education (CDE, 2005) recognizes the importance of physical education in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. According to the CDE, physical education also helps students develop characteristics like “confidence, independence, self-control, resiliency, and positive social skills; allows them to set and strive for personal goals, learn and assume leadership, cooperate with others, accept responsibility for their own behavior, and improve their academic performance” (CDE, 2005, p. 6). To insure that students are receiving enough physical education in school to promote the development of these characteristics, section 51210 of the Education Code in California was developed which states that for every ten school days students must complete at least two-hundred minutes of physical activity (CDE, 2005).

There are five standards that the CDE has developed for schools to follow when designing their physical education programs. Standard One states, “Students demonstrate the motor skills and movement patterns needed to perform a variety of physical activities.” Standard Two states, “Students demonstrate knowledge of movement concepts, principles and strategies that apply to the learning and performance of physical activities.” Standard Three states, “Students assess and maintain a level of physical fitness to improve health and performance.” Standard Four states, “Students demonstrate knowledge of physical fitness concepts, principles, and strategies to improve health and performance.” Standard Five states, “Students demonstrate and utilize knowledge of psychological and sociological concepts, principles, and strategies that apply to the learning and performance of physical activity” (CDE, 2005, p. 7). All of these standards are adapted to each grade level so they are developmentally appropriate for the targeted age group. They are also broken down into specific techniques that need to be achieved in each grade level.

Traditional physical education has consisted of team sports, track and field, swimming, and other activities. While it is important to include these sports in physical education program, many schools have been introducing alternatives to meet the needs of a diverse student body. One program entitled Activities Beyond Sports, or ABS, is introducing yoga, pilates, martial arts, and dance into physical education programs (Cho, Ambrowitz, Evans, and Chaudhari, 2004). Another alternative physical education program that is becoming popular is Adventure Education. In these types of programs students are introduced to activities like rock climbing, kayaking, hiking, and roping (McKenzie, 2000). Because physical education is a determinant for a student’s physical activity in the future, it is important to allow them to explore different types of exercise in order to find what they enjoy doing. It is also important to emphasize the personal attributes they can get out of the sports, not just the physical activity itself. In order to build a quality physical education program in the ideal school, it must meet all the state standards, help students develop physically and emotionally, and inspire students to be physically active and healthy throughout their life.

Works Cited
California Department of Education. (2005). Physical Education Model Content Standards for California Public Schools: Kindergarten through grade twelve. Retrieved August 16, 2009 from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). Childhood Overweight and Obesity.
Retrieved August 16, 2009 from

Cho, Grace E., Ambrowitz, Karen I., Evans, David, and Chaudhari, Sandeep R. (2004). Activities Beyond Sports (ABS): An alternative physical education program. Public Health and Environment. Retrieved August 16, 2009 from

McKenzie, Marcia D. (2000). How Are Adventure Education Program Outcomes Achieved? A review of the literature. Australian Journal of Outdoor Education, 5(1). Retrieved August 16, 2009 from