Community Health|February 8, 2011 11:24 AM

House approves bill requiring physical activity in schools

Photo by The Knowles Gallery. Used with permission under Creative Commons license.

Update: A bill requiring 30 minutes of physical activity per day for elementary students won approval from the Colorado House Feb. 15 by a vote of 39-26.

At the same time this bill is moving to the Senate, the Aurora Public Schools are eliminating physical education as a requirement for graduation.

Co-sponsor Rep. Tom Massey (R-Poncha Springs) said his intent is to “promote health and well-being among our student population.”

Massey is the chair of the education committee and a co-sponsor of HB1069, which would mandate all public schools offer physical activity that includes physical education classes, after-school activities, physical activity in the classroom, and field trips that incorporate some sort of physical activity.

Colorado is one of two states in the U.S. that do not require physical education in schools.

On the day after the bill passed out of committee, the Aurora Public Schools Board of Education voted to eliminate required physical education classes. The district currently requires high school freshmen to take courses in both health and physical education; the 5-2 vote was part of an effort to revamp graduation requirements and place more emphasis on math, science and languages.

Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, co-sponsor of HB1069, appeared at the school board meeting to ask if another option could be considered. At the legislative committee hearing the day before, Fields highlighted Colorado’s growing child obesity problem.

“One in four children in Colorado are overweight or obese,” said Fields. “Our kids are just not getting enough exercise.”

Supporters included The Colorado Public Health Association, The Colorado Health Foundation and the Colorado branch of the American Diabetes Association.

Colorado children had been some of the leanest in the nation, but from 2003 to 2007, their ranking plummeted from third to 23rd in the country.

“Our obesity rate grew faster than 47 other states in this last reporting period,” said Anne Warhover, president and CEO of The Colorado Health Foundation. “I know that there is a correlation between that statistic and the fact that we’re one of two states that doesn’t require physical education.”

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