Question: What is the one thing which schools can provide to all students in all schools in all states in the U.S. each day which will make them smarter and healthier? Answer: Give them daily P.E. at school. That’s it. It’s that simple. Really. 

The academic benefits of physical activity breaks for students — whether it’s physical education, recess or short physical activity breaks —are abundantly clear and in numerous supply. While the benefits of exercise are well publicized, rarely do we hear about the negative side effects of physical inactivity.

Leaders in education in the U.S. say the academic benefits of physical activity during the school day are crystal clear and cannot be questioned.

“We are the most sedentary generation ever on Earth,” states Dr. John Ratey, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Rates of physical inactivity in the U.S. are bad and getting worse, unless there’s a commitment to change, according to Ratey. The national figures on physical activity indicate that two-thirds of U.S. children are not active to healthy standards and 48 percent of all high schools in the U.S. have no physical education (P.E.). If implemented, daily P.E. classes in our schools will help reverse physical inactivity rates in the U.S., which currently exceed 82 million people.

Leaders in education in the U.S. say the academic benefits of physical activity during the school day are crystal clear and cannot be questioned.

“It’s just as important as math. It’s just as important as social studies,” said Dr. Julian Reed, Associate Professor of Health Sciences, Furman University (Greenville, South Carolina), who has conducted studies on the power of P.E. “The kids that get P.E. daily are outperforming the kids that don’t have P.E.”

“Exercise wakes the brain up and prepares it to be in its best learning situation,” stated Chad Fenwick, Advisor for Physical Education, K-12 (Los Angeles, California).

“The best behaviors and the best academic outcomes are when they come back in from physical education,” stated Dave Spurlock, Director of P.E., Charleston (South Carolina) City Schools. “Movement can change the whole dynamic of education.”

 “Exercise is the miracle drug because it (positively) affects every part of our bodies,” said Dr. Janice Key, medical director, MUSC Health-University Medical Center (Charleston, South Carolina).

Currently, many schools in the U.S. provide the bare minimum of P.E. to their students but students also know the positive effects of P.E. They say “It opens up your mind, and “It helps me focus more (in the classroom).”

There are findings that clearly show that higher fitness levels help generate higher academic scores. Isn’t that the overall objective of going to school — learning what is taught in the classroom and getting higher test scores? If so, implementing daily P.E. will help deliver the desired academic results.

Founded in January 2013, PHIT America is a non-profit campaign focused on overcoming the severe ramifications of the ‘Inactivity Pandemic’ through four strategic approaches: education, supporting school-based activity programs, a national event, and advocating – which will get America’s youth, more active, fit and healthy. Look for newly released PHIT America documentaries – Creating Healthier and Smarter Kids: The Power of P.E. Viewers will hear comments about the importance of physical activity from a medical doctor, school leaders, classroom teachers, P.E. professionals, parents and students.


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