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Faculty Mentor

Ana B. Freire Ribeiro, Ph.D


Physical education requirements in the United States vary and are often left to local districts in each state to decide. Considering the relationship between physical activity and obesity and physical fitness with mortality, requirements relating to national recommendations appear important. Long term implications of participation in physical education are contradictory at best with the limited studies performed concluding conflicting results.

Purpose: To examine the relationship between years of participation in physical education at a high school level and levels of physical activity and fitness in college students and adults.

Methods: Forty-one participants ranging in age from 18-65 (mean age 33.6) were recruited utilizing an inter-collegiate mailing system. Participants completed a self-administered IPAQ long-form questionnaire as well as additional physical education related questions. Participants also completed a YMCA Step Test.

Results: When comparing participant results to national recommendations for physical activity 6 of 41 met vigorous physical activity guidelines (14.6%), and 0 met guidelines for moderate physical activity. When adding in vigorous outdoor housework those meeting vigorous guidelines went up to 11 of 41 participants (26.8%), and when adding in moderate outdoor and indoor housework those meeting moderate guidelines went up to 4 of 41 (9.7%). Mean score of 4.5 on the YMCA Step Test for all participants was between below average and poor with a standard deviation of nearly two scoring levels.

No significant relationships were found when comparing time spent in physical education classes (required or total) to recalled moderate physical activity and fitness levels in college students and adults, while a significant relationship was seen when comparing the time spent in physical education classes (required and total) to recalled vigorous physical activity and fitness levels in college students and adults (p=0.02).

Conclusion: Further study to examine the relationship between physical education and long-term physical activity is needed with particular attention being paid to physical education requirements and their variances.

Publication Date



phycial education, lifetime fitness


Health and Physical Education

Years Spent in Secondary Physical Education and Levels of Physical Activity in College Students and Adults