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Physical Education in the Schools
Iowa Association for Health, Physical Education,
Recreation, and Dance (IAHPERD)
Physical Education is Basic in the School Curriculum
Research findings clearly demonstrate that regular exercise, from early
childhood throughout life, is a primary factor in maintaining health and
enriching the quality of life. Physical activity has long been regarded
as necessary for the normal growth and development of children and youth.
Regular exercise is now recognized by the medical profession as a major
factor in the prevention of cardiovascular disorders which claim more
lives each year than any other form of illness. Exercise has also been
shown to be effective in relieving tensions, thereby promoting relaxation
and the reduction of stress in our highly technical society. Physical
education is the only offering in the school curriculum which provides
all children and youth the opportunity to develop movement skills in physical
activities through which they may currently acquire and maintain throughout
life the physical fitness essential to their health and well being. Although
physical education also makes significant contributions to the psychological,
mental, and social development of children and youth, its unique contribution
to the total offerings in the school is the immediate and future enhancement
of the health and well-being of the students through physical activity.
It is this unique contribution which mandates that physical education
be regarded as basic in the school curriculum and taught by well qualified
and certified personnel.
Physical Education Should Be Required Daily for All Children From Kindergarten
through Grade 12
Research findings show that regular participation in various physical
activities results in well-defined physiological adaptations in the body.
When regular participation is discontinued, these adaptations reverse
and the body degenerates to its former physiological state. Similarly,
skill in any motor activity can only by acquired through regular practice;
discontinuation of practice sessions results in loss in the motor skill
in question. Hence, to profit from the benefits of exercise and to develop
movement skills in physical activities suitable for life-long participation,
all students must be enrolled each year throughout their school careers
(i.e., elementary school, junior-high school, senior-high school) in daily
physical education classes.
Interscholastic Athletics is not an Appropriate Substitute for Physical
Although programs of interscholastic athletics in the schools may meet
the immediate movement and exercise needs of the participants during their
season of competition, such programs do not accomodate all of the students.
Interscholastic athletic programs are inherently selective in nature.
The larger the enrollment of a school, the smaller the percentage of students
who can participate in interscholastic athletics. Further, the team sports
which comprise the major part of any interscholastic athletics program
are not activities in which students will be able to participate throughout
their adult years. The only offering in the school which provides for
both current and future exercise needs of all students is physical education.
For additional information contact:
Larry Hensley, Executive Director-IAHPERD
School of HPELS, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA 50614, 319/273-6442
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Last updated 1996.01.29.