Reconsidering current objectives for physical activity within physical education

Matthew Hobbs, A Daly-Smith, J McKenna, T Quarmby, D Morley

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    7 Citations (Scopus)
    110 Downloads (Pure)


    Children’s participation in physical activity (PA) has important positive benefits for their health and academic outcomes. Within the school day, physical education (PE) is increasingly endorsed as a key time for children to accumulate PA. Despite this increasing emphasis, research papers and policy documents frequently identify PE lessons as ‘not active enough’. However, contemporary objectives for sufficient PA in PE may not be based on the highest quality evidence. Furthermore, while the objectives appear compatible, they contain profound differences. Continued pursuit of these objectives may be detrimental to achieving positive experiences of PA in PE. For instance, an exclusive focus on PA objectives may encourage teachers to prioritise fitness-based activities over others that young people enjoy. Pursuing short-term goals for PA also risks investing limited lesson time to develop important elements of physical literacy that only become developed after prolonged engagement and practice. Importantly, what is at stake is not only achieving sufficient PA in PE, but also encouraging lifelong participation in PA and the long-term health of today’s children.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1229-1230
    JournalBritish Journal of Sports Medicine
    Issue number19
    Early online date14 Jun 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Sept 2018


    • Children
    • health
    • physical activity
    • physical education


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