Sixth Annual Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport Lecture: Does Physical Education Have a Long-Term Public Health Impact?

Article excerpt

Physical education is an institution in American schools widely presumed to provide important health benefits to students. A considerable body of evidence supports the conclusion that, when delivered with instructional practices emphasizing student participation in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), physical education can contribute importantly to students' daily MVPA requirement. Likewise, there is significant evidence that physical education can exert beneficial short-term effects on some health and fitness outcomes. However, the research community has only rarely treated physical education as a public health intervention, to which exposure is hypothesized to promote health at the population level. Consequently, the longer texan effects of exposure to physical education on health outcomes in youth populations are poorly understood. Some evidence suggests that physical education can beneficially affect long-term health outcomes, but few large-scale epidemiological studies have examined this issue. Given the huge investment American society makes in physical education, studies should be conducted to determine if physical education provides an important public health benefit, flit is found to produce benefits, then the types and levels of physical education that provide optimal benefit should be identified through multiple observational and experimental investigations. Pate is a widely published exercise physiologist with interests in children's physical activity and physical fitness and the health implications of physical activity. …