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Report Card: Room for Improvement on Wyoming's Phys-Ed Policies

Wyoming students would benefit from stronger physical-education requirements, according to a new report. (Pixabay)
Wyoming students would benefit from stronger physical-education requirements, according to a new report. (Pixabay)
April 13, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Students across the nation would benefit from stronger physical-education requirements, but most states are dropping the ball on keeping kids active, according to a new report from Voices for Healthy Kids.

Dr. Stephen Daniels, an American Academy of Pediatrics fellow, said PE programs in schools teach children lifelong skills and have a positive impact on their physical, mental and emotional health.

"One factor that is often lost in the discussion," he said, "is that kids who are able to be active during the day actually learn better and ultimately perform better on various academic skills including standardized tests."

While Wyoming is known for its outdoor recreation opportunities, the study ranks the state in the middle of the pack on keeping children fit. The state requires students to take PE in kindergarten through eighth grade but doesn't set a minimum number of minutes of exercise. National guidelines recommend that children get at least an hour a day of moderate to intense physical activity.

Since children spend more than half of their waking hours in school, Daniels said, it's a perfect place - particularly for chidlren from low-income families - to get the exercise they need.

"Some of the kinds of opportunities that might be available to families that have greater means - belonging to fitness centers and gyms and other sorts of things - really aren't available broadly to families across the country," he said.

The report found that nationally, 32 percent of children are obese or overweight. Daniels said that improving the state's policies on PE standards is a good investment because getting children into healthy habits today will lead to healthier adults tomorrow.

The report is online at shapeamerica.org.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY