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Bill Would Add P-E to the “Three Rs”

February 18, 2009

St. Paul, MN – A legislative panel today will consider a measure to put physical education back with the "Three Rs" in Minnesota, creating statewide standards and making PE a graduation requirement. Supporters have invited Dr. John Ratey of Harvard Medical School to testify to the state House committee. He says exercise not only trims the waistline; it also firms the brain.

"The studies show that physical exercise, every day, is useful for improving students' ability to learn and perform at their highest level."

Ratey says there’s a direct link between physical activity and brain development.

"Exercise is the major way of increasing the number of new brain cells we make; this works in a key area of the brain that's involved with learning and memory, called the hippocampus."

He says exercise itself doesn't make you smarter, but it puts the brain in a good position to learn. Ratey adds that physical education isn't about sports or athletics, but about helping make all students fit.

Skeptics worry about additional school expenses. Supporters say they're minimal, and that there's a huge academic payoff. They say PE also will address the growing number of overweight kids, and they note that Minnesota is one of only three states without a school PE requirement.

Jim Wishner, Public News Service - MN