Policies and Opportunities for Physical Activity….

by SKHC Editor on January 1, 2007

The January issue of the Journal of School Health published article “Policies and Opportunities for Physical Activity in Middle School Environments.”  We’ve excerpted some of the article here in our blog, and we’re interested in what you think. 

One of the issues mentioned is same-sex physical education activities.  What’s your opinion of keeping the boys and girls separate for Phys Ed?  Will they participate more if children of the opposite sex aren’t watching?  Less?  How does your school deal with the need for physical activity balanced with student participation?  What programs have you and your school implemented to target obesity and other weight-related issues?

Please leave your comments below – we want to know what you think!

Here’s the excerpt from the Journal of School Health:

BACKGROUND: This study examined physical activity opportunities and barriers at 36 geographically diverse middle schools participating in the Trial of Activity for Adolescent Girls.

METHODS: Principals, physical education and health education department heads, and program leaders were interviewed to assess policies and instructional practices that support physical activity.

RESULTS: Schools provided approximately 110 hours per year in physical education instruction. Approximately 20% of students walked or bicycled to school. Eighty-three percent of schools offered interscholastic sports and 69% offered intramural sports. Most schools offered programs for girls, but on average, only 24 girls (~5%) in the schools attended any programs. Only 25% of schools allowed after school free play. An overall score created to assess school environmental support for physical activity indicated that, on average, schools met 6.7 items of 10 items. Free/reduced lunch program participation versus not (p = .04), perceived priority of physical education instruction over coaching (p = .02), and safety for walking/bicycling to school (p = .02) predicted environmental support score.

CONCLUSIONS: Schools have policies and practices that support physical activity, although unfavorable practices exist. Schools must work with community partners and officials to provide environments that optimally support physical activity, especially schools that serve low-income students.

EXCERPT:…Four schools implemented single-gender physical education. Although the benefits of coeducational versus single-gender physical education are still being debated 21 McKenzie et al found that middle-school girls in coeducational physical education were more active than those in single-gender classes. They also found that girls-only classes spent more time in skill drills. In TAAG formative research, girls said that boys’ negative attitudes toward girls’ skill levels were major barriers to girls’ participation in physical activity.  If single-gender physical education provides additional opportunities for girls to learn skills necessary to competently engage in physical activity, this class format may be beneficial. However, school districts must also consider the implications of implementing title IX as well as the overall benefits of coeducational instruction, which may include enhanced physical activity for all students during class…


Sharon Wilson,RN April 4, 2007 at 2:50 pm

I am the nurse for two middle schools. I believe more students would participate in PE if single-gender was implemented. Girls are hesitant to be active, especially during their menstrual cycles, when boys are present in the class. Boys, especially those who are less atheletic, are hesitant to be active when girls are present. Placing these students in classes where they’re all the same sex takes the edge off.

Sarah at SKHC April 10, 2007 at 4:09 pm

Although I am not a school nurse I use to be a student who would do whatever I could to get out of gym class. I agree with your comments about implementing single-gendered PE. The teenage years are awkward enough without having to feel the additional pressures of performing in front of the opposite sex.

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