Only 46 percent of the Colorado’s high-schoolers take at least one physical education class each week, according to a new report from the Colorado Health Foundation and the Colorado Health Institute.
Illustrating the impact of place, the “Extra Credit: Get Active” report highlights the vast differences in physical education participation in the state’s geographic regions. Nearly 70 percent of teens in northeast Colorado take physical education classes at least once each week, compared to just 25 percent of students in northwest Colorado.
Overall, Colorado ranks 24th among states when it comes to daily physical activity among school-aged children. In contrast, adults and senior citizens rank first and second respectively.
The report, an offshoot of the annual Colorado Health Report Card, also cites major disparities in the amount of physical activity experienced by kids of different income levels. Only about 58 percent of kids with family incomes under the federal poverty level got at least 20 minutes of exercise four or more days a week, compared to 74 percent of kids living in the wealthiest homes.
Gender disparities also exist, with far fewer girls (40 percent) than boys (58 percent) getting the recommended hour of daily exercise five days a week.
Noting that Colorado is one of the few states that has no physical education requirements, the report advocates for creative approaches to physical education programming, exercise opportunities targeted at girls and interventions for regions with few out-of-school exercise options.