The Real Reason Gym Class Is Terrible

Gym class. It’s an easy punch line. P.E. is supposed to encourage health and fitness from an early age. But for many kids, it’s a terrible experience. And it may be more detrimental than we thought. P.E. became a standard of requirement right after the civil war. It was recognized after the war that we really didn’t have enough kids fit to fight in combat. and since then it’s been pretty standard
part of the school experience. Today PE is viewed as a method for addressing an
increase in childhood obesity rates There’s just a very understandable need
for young people to have as much physical activity as they do have time
at their desks just allowing them to get out the jitters and being able to sit
and concentrate after a long period. But consider the case of Texas Fitness Now, a
37 million dollar physical fitness program implemented in 2007. According to
a recent study mandatory gym class doesn’t reduce obesity or add value to
middle school curriculums. So this program provided low-income middle
schools with money for fitness equipment under the condition that students attend
PE class for at least 30 minutes per day. And it found that the PE requirement was
actually counterproductive it not only has a negligible impact on fitness and
academic achievement but it can also really take a hit on kids discipline
they were more likely to be truant and more likely to act out and the theory
about why that was is that kids were getting bullied. The locker room is an
area which is mostly unsupervised by middle school coaches and teachers and
by providing students this new arena to meet every single day it could be that
students are just bullying each other more. And there was a 7% increase in the
proportion of students causing a disruption. All coupled with the
complicating factor of puberty. Kids are feeling ashamed of their weight
or ashamed of their inability to run fast. They’re also ashamed of their sweat their appearance and this is
particularly true in middle school when kids are especially self-conscious. So PE
may be causing more problems than it is solving and yet it’s still a requirement
for public schools in 47 states. But is it all bad? If PE is done well it can
have a really pronounced effect on kids’ fitness. Schools could rethink the entire program. The design of a PE class really really
matters. My ideal PE program would be a mix of recess-type opportunities, hiking,
yoga, activities that really just create this organic opportunity to be
physically active. This might do better at creating a healthy relationship with exercise that will last a lifetime. Teachers can play a role in this too. Really remembering that they need to be supportive. That they need to ensure that
bullying isn’t happening to ensure that kids are enjoying
themselves. Just to ask kids, “What do you want to do?” Hey I’m Alia Wong. I’m a
staff writer at the Atlantic if you want to see more videos like this please
subscribe to our YouTube channel.

27 thoughts on “The Real Reason Gym Class Is Terrible”

  1. Why was it easier to stay skinny in the 80s? Watch the previous episode of the Idea File to find out:

  2. Jesus H Christ, the locker room can be embarrassing sometimes but it's important to develop coping mechanisms and social skills. I am in my twenties and most of the kids in my very mixed backgrounds public middle school were not dicks to each other. The issue is not the locker room but rather asshole kids who's parents are failing to raise them and expect schools to. The kids in my school who were mean or teased in the locker room are 50% in jail right now tbh (my friend is a cop and will occasionally have…reunions). Also, I love the Atlantic but getting a writer to interview a hand full of people and look at a small number of studies and then say what they think should be done is really antithetical to quality journalism. I get that it's just a short YouTube video but idk maybe look into the PE classes of Europe or Japan and the studies there. I live in Germany today and used to work as a primary school teacher. None of my students were overweight let alone obese. They all had gym class and the dynamics between students was healthy. In most of these cases the issue is not the presence of gym class but rather the students lack of age appropriate responsibility, failure of parents to raise decent persons, and schools for understaffing and misplacing coaches. For many kids gym is the ONLY physical activity in their day and while yoga is great for calming down it has no effect on muscle growth, cardiovascular health or team building.

  3. Half an hour! 😂😂🤣🤣🤣 No wonder it doesn't do anything. The point of PE is to teach how to exercise and be healthy, not that one only exercises during classes, just like one doesn't only do math during class but is supposed to study at home

  4. so the problem is bullying, not PE. PE doesn't only need to be competitive sports. It's very important to teach kids how to safely use and develop their bodies. Also kids need to get this energy out to be able to focus in a classroom.

  5. My husband works at a Charter School and their gym classes are replaced with Martial Arts and Dance class…and the kids are allowed to choose which they'd prefer to do. I love the model and it works so so well. It's challenging, fun for the kids, teaches them life skills and is engaging.

  6. Our kids are so physically depraved they get made fun of when they are acctually made to do anything physical, let's get rid of it. No kid should have to endure any hardship.

  7. High fructose corn syrup is the main cause of obesity. It is everywhere and it is addictive. Companies are profiting from unhealthy habits.
    It is more important that kids be guided into managing their own lives in a healthy, balanced way … than to have school curricula pushing them into various activities chosen for them.

  8. Schools need to emphasize healthy eating over exercise if they want to make a dent in the obesity epidemic. Start with a greater focus in the classroom, then attack the awful lunch programs.

  9. Fuck PE. I hated it throughout all of high school. Glad I’m in college now. I love exercising on my own terms along with eating a variety of healthy foods and not having to settle for school lunches or anything that won’t last without a fridge until lunch time. My school didn’t even have showers so if I got PE first period, lmao fuck you’re day SUCKS.

  10. Maybe start by removing the candy vending/coke machines from schools. Most public schools have contracts with pepsi or coke as well as other snack food vendors.

  11. P.E. was literally the highlight of my elementary and middle school experience. Although all these things said here are pretty accurate. Middle and high school boy's locker room can be brutal.

  12. When I was in high school I never dressed out because I would just try flirting (to various degrees of success) with the girls, who never participated either. During year that I had to make up the credit, I would go into the band room and play all the instruments. At the end of the year the p.e. teacher listened to me playing the piano and gave me the credit, being I stay physically fit on my own time anyways. He was definitely a cool teacher

    I've always stayed away from soft drinks and have cooked my own meals since I can remember….and I was actually a very chubby kid, who was picked on, until middle school, when I picked up skateboarding

  13. It seems your argument is it's not working so stop it. Your countering argument is these kids need to be coddled and supported. That doesn't sound like a goal of PE. I thought PE was to challenge and test you. When the next war comes we're going to hope that we can get them with our thumbs.

  14. All my PE teachers growing up where obese.. and PE was only a mandatory requirement in elementary school in my state…

  15. This takes me back to 6th grade when we were all required to do very competitive basketball-related activities, even if you weren't interested in joining the basketball team. I can still hear my PE teacher telling me while I was shooting free throws "There now, nice and easy" in a singsong tone of voice like you were use when talking to little kids. Yeah, good times – not.

  16. Oh come on. Stop endorsing helicopter parenting and shielding kids from anything that might upset them. They need to learn to deal with things, not be shielded from them, to grow up being utterly unable to deal with others disagreeing with them in society. You're creating adult babies.

  17. This video was weird. It seemed to say the main problem was letting students be alone together. If the problem is us, maybe we have failed.

  18. US problems.
    Eat less. Its quite easy.
    Get moving, its actually natural.
    No wonder you are a nation of gunshooting fat people.
    And you consider your self normal…

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