Is required gym class really necessary?

IMG_1524Valeria Vesco | Conant Crier

People everywhere in matching grey tops and navy blue shorts. It is loud, full of people talking with friends and teachers yelling at their students to run around the track. It smells bad too, reeking clothes that haven’t been brought home and washed after months of sweating in them. You think to yourself, “why am I here?”

Physical Education is one of the most dreaded classes of the day. It is a class where insecurities shine bright and students are left feeling alone. We are forced to play pointless games of kickball or “run” the track in order to attempt to fulfill the necessary exercise we need daily.

According to Time Magazine, Illinois is one of six states that still require gym class. If the majority of the country has already gotten rid of required gym class, why is it necessary for us, students in Illinois, to participate in gym class?

Gym class is useless and illogical to require students to fit into their schedule. High schools, such as Conant, already require students to take specific classes like U.S. History, Economics, Health, Consumers Science, and also two to four years of core classes to graduate. Adding gym class into this group gives students less opportunity to take classes they enjoy or need to get into their specific university. This is illogical of the schools and districts because they tell us to take classes relating to what we want to study in the future but do not give us room in our schedule to take it.

One common argument suggests that gym class should be necessary to help cure the obesity problem in America. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, “Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.” However, it is more rare to see someone put forth effort than it is to see a student walking and looking at her phone while ignoring her teacher’s demands to run. While obesity is a major issue that needs to be addressed, gym class has not and will not cure the obesity problem in America.

Another common misconception is that the exercise students do in gym class will get our blood pumping and thus, increase our brain activity for the rest of the school day. However, according to publicschoolreview.com, “Researchers have found that the average high school gym class only keeps students physically active for an average of 16 minutes.” This study is borderline depressing because students could be taking a class they could learn from, but instead they are waiting for the dreaded 16 minutes of activity to start because Illinois unfortunately requires it. With how little we get done in gym, it really has no affect on our learning capacities.

Gym class should not be a mandatory part of the day, but instead, an option. There are students who thoroughly enjoy gym class because it allows them to mess around with friends and take a break from their desks. While this is true, many kids also find it to be the worst time of the day. Making gym class optional would sensibly give students the freedom to choose how they want to use that extra period.

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