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More than one-third of California teens do not participate in school physical education

nd PE class is often one of the few safe places to do so," she said.

Among the study's findings:

Boys exercise more than girls

Participation in PE is higher among boys than girls (66 percent vs. 59 percent). Yet just 25 percent of boys and 13 percent of girls meet the current federal recommendations for physical activity.

School PE linked to higher rates of physical activity

For California adolescents, participating in PE is associated with an additional 18 minutes of physical activity each week, the authors found.

PE participation varies by county

The average number of days that adolescents participate in PE each week varies considerably from county to county, ranging from 1.8 days in Santa Cruz County to 3.8 days in Madera County. The average number of days that teens engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity per week ranges from 3.1 days in San Mateo County to 4.7 days in Lake County.

The authors recommend maintenance of existing PE classes and increased funding to ensure that all schools meet statewide PE standards. And although they commend recently implemented legislation that requires students to pass five of the six standards of the California Physical Fitness Test before receiving an exemption from PE, they note that it is important for students to maintain physical activity, even if they do meet these standards.

"Physical fitness is an intrinsic part of the educational process, not something to be sidelined or avoided," said Dr. Robert K. Ross, M.D., president and CEO of the California Endowment, which funded the study. "Our educators need to understand that physical education is just as essential to a student's academic success as reading, writing and arithmetic."


Contact: Gwen Driscoll
University of California - Los Angeles

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