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Study: Colorado Students Would Benefit from Stronger Physical Education Policies

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

DENVER - 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 and pediatrician in chief at Children's Hospital Colorado, 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 Colorado is known for its outdoor recreation opportunities, the study ranks the state in the middle of the pack on keeping children fit. The state does not require students to take PE from elementary through high school, but does mandate classroom-based physical-activity breaks and has established a monthly minimum of at least 600 minutes of exercise for elementary students.

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 - CO