ALBANY, N.Y. — Researchers report that in the typical high school gym class - where there are a few jumping jacks before a halfhearted game of softball - students are active for an average of just 16 minutes. The report by Cornell University researchers also found that adding 200 minutes more of physical education time per week had little effect. ‘What’s actually going on in gym classes? Is it a joke?’ asked John Cawley, lead author of the study and a professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell. The study was based on annual surveys of 37,000 high schoolers by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The data come from the annual youth behavior surveys from 1999, 2001 and 2003, which include questions about students’ exercise habits. As obesity rates climb among children, the role of schools in shaping students’ eating and exercise habits has come under intense scrutiny. In recent years, nearly all states have introduced bills to increase or reform physical education. Healthy People 2010, a federal initiative to improve physical fitness, has made it a goal to improve curriculum and diminish the amount of time students waste being sedentary in gym […]

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