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The Association of State Law to Physical Education Time Allocation in US Public Schools

Perna FM, Oh A, Chriqui JF, Mâsse LC, Atienza AA, Nebeling L, Agurs-Collins T, Moser RP, and Dodd KW. American Journal of Public Health, 2012 Aug;102(8):1594-1599

Objectives: We examined whether public schools in states with specific and stringent physical education (PE) laws, as assessed by the Physical Education–Related State Policy Classification System (PERSPCS), available on the Classification of Laws Associated with School Students (C.L.A.S.S.) Web site, reported more weekly PE time in the most recent School Health Policies and Programs Survey (SHPPS). 

Methods: Schools (n=410) were grouped by their state’s PERSPCS time requirement scores (none, nonspecific requirement, or specific requirement). Average weekly school-level PE was calculated using the SHPPS-reported PE minutes. Weighted analyses determined if PE minutes/week differed by PERSPCS group. 

Results: Schools in states with specific requirement laws averaged over 27 and 60 more PE minutes/week at the elementary and middle school levels, respectively, compared with schools within states with nonspecific laws and over 40 and 60 more PE minutes per week, respectively, compared with elementary and middle schools in states with no laws. High school results were nonsignificant. 

Conclusions: Public health guidelines recommend at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity for children, and PE may further this goal. Strong codified law with specific time requirements for PE may be an important tool contributing toward adequate PE time and daily physical activity recommendations.

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