Should Kids Take Gym? The Pros and Cons of Gym Classes in Schools

With the rising fears of childhood obesity, many parents and educators are wondering if a school gym class is a) needed, b) giving kids the workout that they need and c) will be cut from the school’s program in order to save money.

In many schools, no matter whether they are in grades K-12, children are required to take gym class in order to get their fitness education requirement in. However, is this class enough to teach the future generation healthy lifestyle and eating habits? A study reported by MNSBC in 2006 shows that the average gym class only keeps kids active for about 16 minutes, which is not nearly enough! Read on for the pros and cons of having gym be a requirement in schools:

Cons:

• Gym is not considered a core subject, so there’s no national standard. This can lead to half-hearted classes that don’t allow children to learn how to develop healthy workout habits.

• Many students believe that their gym classes just aren’t effective and so don’t even bother to put any effort in.

• A study of fitness classes in Texas elementary schools show that most students are either incredibly sedentary or completely inactive. The students were only moving for about 3 minutes during the class time.

• Despite the fact that many schools in different states attempted to add at least 200 minutes of gym time, there were no substantial changes reported. Even with the extra minutes, boys only engaged in 7.5 minutes more of activity per day and for girls, it was only 8 additional minutes per day.

Pros:

• However, despite the negative results from the study, more effort should be put in to revamping gym class; especially if they get rid of more archaic methods such as having students perform sets of jumping jacks and running laps.

• Defenders of fitness classes in schools say that there needs to be a “paradigm shift” and schools need to expand the activities students perform: aerobics, bowling, fly-fishing, dance, and weight-lifting are all excellent activities that will teach healthy habits and get their hearts pumping at the same time.

• Other gym class reformists argue that they should also be working on helping students understand why fitness is so important; aspects such as decreased chance of stress and depression and improved self-esteem should be highlighted as well.

Despite the fact that oftentimes children do not get the best exercise in their gym class, it is imperative that schools re-vamp the way they approach their gym classes, especially since 60% of children from the ages of 9-13 don’t engage in any organized physical activity during non-school hours and 23% don’t take part in any free-time physical activity at all according to the CDC. If we want the future generation to be healthy, we need to fix the gym classes in schools, make it mandatory, and have a national standard so that we can be assured they will get the best possible fitness tips and learn how to live a healthy lifestyle.

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