How many PE classes were you required to take in college? If you graduated any time recently, chances are, zero. According to a recent study performed at Oregon State University and published in the journal Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, only 39 percent of four-year colleges and universities in the United States have a physical-education requirement, compared to 97 percent in 1920. Perhaps a PE requirement sounds a bit childish for a college student, but considering how much more we now know about the importance of exercise versus 100 years ago, any downward trend in physical fitness is troubling.
“We see more and more evidence about the benefit of physical activity, not just to our bodies but to our minds, yet educational institutions are not embracing their own research,” says Brad Cardinal, Ph.D., lead author of the OSU study. “It is alarming to see four-year institutions following the path that K through12 schools have already gone down, eliminating exercise as part of the curriculum even as obesity rates climb.”