Minnesota State Senator Calls for Focus on Physical Education

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Minnesota state senator Susan Kent has addressed the need for schools to pay more attention to their students’ physical education by introducing a bill calling for phys ed examinations.

The bill would require schools to provide an annual assessment of their students’ physical health beginning from the 2017 school year. Students studying in 9th grade and above would also have to ensure two physical education credits in order to receive their diploma.

Sen. Kent highlighted the importance of incorporating physical education in the daily lives of students.

“What we know is that adequate movement during the day on a consistent basis and good physical education knowledge and skills … are really important both to short-term wellness and learning and also obviously to long-term health.”

The bill from Kent, a Democrat, plans to update school district physical education standards and keep schools focused on ensuring a more physically active student population, writes Kia Farhang of Twin Cities.

Studies by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have shown that physically active individuals tend to be less prone to developing heart disease, depression, and certain forms of cancer. Individuals who carry out a significant amount of exercise also live longer.

However, most Minnesota schools have exposed their first through fifth grade students to less than two and a half hours of exercise on average per week, shows a recent report released by the Minnesota Department of Education.

The proposed bill, however, received criticism from individuals such as Senator Sean Nienow, who felt that the annual test was not necessary regardless of the importance of physical education in student life.

“It’s not a bad thing, but is that really what we need to do?”

The the latest edition of America’s Health Rankings, sponsored by the United Health Foundation (UHF) in partnership with the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention, rated Minnesota sixth among the fifty states in overall health.

Minnesota dropped to sixth in 2014 after ranking third in both 2013 and 2012. The index shows Minnesota continuing to be the number one state in the nation with the fewest cardiovascular deaths per 100,000 people. It also stands second in fewest days of poor physical health and second in fewest years lost due to premature death per 100,000 people.

Experts have reflected the situation in the fall of higher education and local aid funding in the state budget. Universities and local governments can generate revenue via other sources if state funding is cut in contrast to other budget areas, writes David Montgomery of Twin Cities.

The state continues to face a number of challenges, mainly through its persistent irregularities in the health status of racial subgroups, an increased percentage of adults engaging in binge drinking and low per capita public health investment.

Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger discussed the disparities in the statistics.

“Minnesota continues to perform well in most measures of public health, but we’ve slipped in some key areas and we are still seeing significant racial disparities in health status. We need to continue our work to address health disparities as well as the other issues highlighted in the report.”