About 1.3 million teenage students in California public schools do not participate in any school-based physical education classes, even though the state requires that public middle and high school students get 400 minutes of physical education every 10 days.
A policy brief from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research says that cuts to physical education programs, as well as exemptions that let high school students skip up to two years of physical education classes, have contributed to declining participation in these programs.
The study found, for example, that the proportion of students participating in phys ed drops precipitously as they reach their teenage years, from 95 percent at age 12 to just 23 percent at age 17.
Other findings in the study, Adolescent Physical Education and Physical Activity in California: Participation in phys ed is associated with an additional 18 minutes of physical activity each week. Boys are more likely than girls to take part in physical education classes: 66 percent for boys, compared with 59 percent for girls.