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Why Johnny Can't Run
Date:7/26/2012

THURSDAY, July 26 (HealthDay News) -- Mandates for physical education in most of the United States fall short of the guidelines set forth by the National Association of Sport and Physical Education, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Georgia conducted a nationwide study and found that only six states require the 150-minute-per-week recommendation for elementary school physical education. Just two states mandate the middle school guidelines and no states enforce the high school guidelines; the recommendations are 225 minutes a week at both levels, the researchers found.

In conducting the study, the researchers examined the mandates for school-based physical education in all 50 states.

Among the states with the strongest mandates for physical education was New Jersey, which required 3.75 physical-education credits to graduate from high school. This equals 187.5 minutes per week, still 37.5 minutes below the recommended 225 minutes.

The study also found the physical education mandates in some states were vague. For instance, Iowa's requirement states: "...pupils in kindergarten through grade five shall engage in physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes each school day." Schools could interpret this as 30 minutes of recess, the researchers said.

"Recess does not guarantee 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity," the study's author, Bryan McCullick, professor of kinesiology at the University of Georgia, said in a university news release. "Unfortunately, many legislators and school officials think the opposite."

The study also found that the physical education mandate in Wisconsin requires the class to be offered at least three times per week, but doesn't require a minimum length of time for the class. The researchers noted school officials in the state could meet that mandate with just 10 minutes of physical education three times per week.

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