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Rationale for the Essential Components of Physical Education

Shannon L. Michael, Carly Wright, Amelia Mays Woods, Hans van der Mars, Timothy A. Brusseau, David F. Stodden, Sheri L. Burson, Jenna Fisher, Chad M. Killian, Shannon C. Mulhearn, Danielle R. Nesbitt & Christopher D. Pfledderer

rqes cover June 2021

Physical activity for children and adolescents is essential for their health and well-being (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2011). Over the last three decades, significant publications such as Healthy People 2000, 2010, 2020, and 2030 (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion [ODPHP], 2014), Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [USDHHS], 1996), Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (USDHHS, 2008, 2018), Guidelines for school and community programs to promote lifelong physical activity among young people (CDC, 1997) School Health Guidelines to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (CDC, 2011), Global recommendations on physical activity for health (World Health Organization [WHO], 2010), and Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School (Institute of Medicine [IOM], 2013) have emphasized the health benefits of physical activity ranging from reducing the risk of several chronic disease conditions and healthier bones and muscles to improving social and cognitive functioning and overall mental health. A common call to action across these publications is to create increased opportunities for children and adolescents to be more physically active throughout every day.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition (Guidelines) includes recommendations for children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 years to engage in 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) daily (USDHHS, 2018). Despite this guidance, less than one quarter (22%) of children and adolescents are getting the recommended amount of physical activity (Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative, 2019). The Guidelines also include recommendations for providing young people opportunities and encouragement to participate in physical activities that are appropriate for their age, are enjoyable, and offer variety.

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