Phy Ed requirements need some changes

Sydney Williams, News Editor

At Waunakee High School, every student is required to take 1.5 credits, or 3 semesters, of gym class in order to graduate. One of these semesters can be taken online during the summer. This includes everything from dodgeball, swimming, weight lifting, or running. But should it really be mandatory? 

The argument for including gym class in schools is that it helps students learn to exercise and develop a habit and a more healthy lifestyle. And while I don’t disagree that people should maintain a healthy lifestyle through exercise and healthy eating, I just believe that it shouldn’t be necessary for school. Three semesters may not seem like a lot, but that is more opportunity for students to learn about other things that may be of interest to them, or take more classes that could help them out in the long run. I would use that extra space to take more classes of interest, for example, my senior year completely filled up of classes, and if it weren’t for that last credit of gym that I need, I could take another class of interest. 

One could argue to drop study halls of classes deemed ‘easy A’s’, and I would… but unfortunately I’ve never taken a study hall and don’t plan on starting to next year. I also am taking a few “easier” classes to balance my schedule out. I firmly believe that for students that have a more academic interest or wish to take more electives, gym class just gets in the way of academic goals, and limits students’ freedom for choosing what they do with their time and energy. 

Another reason against forcing students to participate in gym classes is that they will never learn to balance a healthy lifestyle if they have such a disregard for the class, and eventually, the idea of exercise overall. Overall, gym classes are not a healthy or effective way for students to develop an interest in their physical health. Some could argue that PE classes force students unwilling to take their physical health into account, a guaranteed few hours per week of exercise. But I once again do not think that is beneficial. Students should develop their interest in exercising themselves, turn it into a hobby that they enjoy, not another chore they need to do to graduate. And the negative experiences that can occur in gym class can have long-lasting effects on the physical health of people well into adulthood. Negative attitudes in regards to PE classes can stay with people throughout their life, leading to negative attitudes towards physical activity such as lowered self-perception such as confidence, and a lack of interest if physical activity overall. 

No, I am not arguing that gym classes be removed from school forever. I am simply suggesting that they not be required. This way, students that have an interest in learning about physical health and exercising not on their own time, are able to take gym, and those who would rather use that time in other ways, are able to not take gym. Thus, I believe that gym class should be optional for students if they so choose to take them, but not mandatory for those with a lack of interest or need for them.