The Problem With PE

As obesity rates in the U.S. are rising, it is important that we exercise. As teenagers are constantly undergoing stress and life changes, exercise is extremely beneficial and should be encouraged.

Harvard Health Publishing said in an article that exercise releases feel-good endorphins in the brain that improve mood and help with depression and anxiety. Some even say it acts similar to an antidepressant.

Like most schools, 20 credits of physical education is required for graduation at Poly. However, if you do not pass 5 of the 6 standards for the state Physical Fitness Test, you are required to take a P.E. class or a sport until you graduate or pass the test.

According to the UCLA Newsroom, out of 12 schools in the district, an average of only 37.8% of students were able to pass the fitness exam; approximately one in three students. In my second year of P.E., the only girl that was able to run the mile in less than ten minutes (one of the standards required to pass the exam) was only ever able to make that time once or twice at the very end of the year. Mind you, this class had a large majority of girls. Out of about 35 students, only nine were male, so only one girl being able to pass that one standard is outrageous.

According to the California Department of Education, the fitness test is meant to be taken in fifth, seventh, and ninth grade. It is also stated that “the main goal of the test is to help students in starting life-long habits of regular physical activity.”

The test was not designated to be religiously standardized like an annual benchmark. There is a multitude of healthy students on campus who exercise regularly outside of school but are not able to pass. A few of them may struggle with health issues that prevent them from passing. The issue with the physical education requirement is that the traditional kinesiology class is heavily focused on ability, not participation. Your grade depends on your accuracy at throwing, catching, or passing balls; how fast you can run, or how many push-ups or sit-ups you can do in one sitting.

There’s no argument: exercise is important for everyone. But forcing students to meet these specific standards doesn’t make them enjoy it. If we wanted to be judged on how well we can kick a soccer ball or throw a baseball, then we would’ve joined the sport instead.