Open Access Commentary

Important considerations when studying the impact of physical education on health in youth

Laura Cañadas1, Oscar L Veiga1 and David Martinez-Gomez12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physical Education, Sports and Human Movement, Faculty of Teacher Training and Education, Autonomous University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain

2 Departamento de Educación Física, Deporte y Motricidad Humana, Facultad de Formación de Profesorado y Educación, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Campus de Canto Blanco, Ctra. de Colmenar Km 11, E-28049 Madrid, Spain

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BMC Pediatrics 2014, 14:75  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-14-75

Published: 14 March 2014


Klakk et al. conducted an intervention study by increasing the frequency of physical education lessons in children aged 8 to 13 years, and they examined its effect on body fat during two school years. Physical education has potential to provide health in childhood and adolescence. For achieving these benefits, one of the most relevant aspects that need to be addressed during physical education classes is to provide students with high levels of physical activity. A well-recognized recommendation suggests that students should engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 50% of the time they spend in physical education classes. Therefore, it would be crucial to know what is happening during physical education classes before increasing their frequency. On the other hand, it seems that the main concern of health-related researchers is provide evidence on the impact of physical education on physical health outcomes (e.g. obesity), whereas other dimensions of health such as social, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health are understudied. New evidence on the role of physical education on other health outcomes beyond physical health would also be important for the recognition of this curricular subject.

Physical education; Health; Physical activity; Youth