Some Ask if More PE is Needed

Students, teachers weigh in on how much physical education is needed, and if Hockaday’s schedule allows for it

It is hard to imagine that Hockaday girls might need more classes added to their schedules. However, in the case of Physical Education, it is possible that they could use some added course time.

Currently, Upper School girls are required to either take a gym class or play a sport to fulfill their PE requirements. But due to Hockaday’s block scheduling, sometimes those PE classes meet only twice a week-while sports teams typically train four or five times per week.

“Working out for two days is better than nothing, but I do not believe that two days alone will maintain a healthy level of fitness,” PE Coordinator Jennifer Johnson said.

Of the four cornerstones that Hockaday was founded on, athletics is one, corroborating the suggestion that fitness is important.

“The fact that Ela Hockaday included athletics as a cornerstone has made it an important foundational piece of this school,” PE Coach Shannon Nadalini said.

Director of Health Curriculum Rebekah Calhoun agreed that more exercise is needed.

“I believe that you need at least four or five days of exercise in order to improve your health, rather than maintain it.”

Even if girls want to be healthier, it can be difficult to self-motivate when carrying a heavy load of academics and extracurriculars. In fact, according to an April survey, only 20 percent of Hockaday girls said that more PE is necessary in their schedules.

The exercise habits girls develop in high school play an important role in their future health, said Dr. Erin Glasgow, an internal medicine physician in Oklahoma City, Okla.

“I define health as the ability to maintain yourself and participate in the mental and physical activities you enjoy without pain or limitations,” she said.

The concern of staying in shape for boarders at Hockaday is even more pertinent as they struggle with being away from home, coping with stress and familiarizing themselves with new cultures.

Freshman boarder Sarah said, “It is important to have PE because exercising is a good way to relieve stress, keep yourself healthy and help you sleep better.”

Glasgow agreed that getting into the habit of exercising is “incredibly important,” and this goal cannot be achieved by merely working out two or three days a week.

“We must be active to maintain health,” Glasgow said. “Even 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise dramatically reduces your risk of heart-related mortality.”

According to Glasgow, exercise is also shown to reduce the risk of type two diabetes and various cancers, including breast cancer. Other benefits of exercise and PE classes include stress relief, improved physical fitness, exposure to new sports and opportunities to meet new people.

“It’s not always easy, and it takes motivation to initiate,” Nadalini said, “but like all disciplines, exercise takes consistent practice to yield long-term rewards and benefits.”

With PE classes sometimes meeting only twice a week, Nadalini said she hopes girls will “take what they learned in class and incorporate it into their personal workouts.”