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Reconsidering current objectives for physical activity within physical education
  1. Matthew Hobbs1,2,
  2. Andrew Daly-Smith1,
  3. Jim McKenna1,
  4. Thomas Quarmby1,
  5. David Morley3
  1. 1 Carnegie School of Sport, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, Yorkshire, UK
  2. 2 School of Social and Health Sciences, Leeds Trinity University, Leeds, UK
  3. 3 Academy of Sport & Physical Activity, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Matthew Hobbs, School of Social and Health Sciences, Leeds Trinity University, LS18 5HD, Leeds, UK; m.hobbs{at}

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Even though physical activity (PA) contributes to better health, many young people fail to achieve the target of 60 min per day.1 The whole school day and within that physical education (PE) are increasingly seen as important opportunities to accumulate PA.1–3 Paradoxically, even though school days including PE are more active than those that are not,3 PE is frequently identified as insufficiently active.4 Research papers and policy documents commonly use two objectives, advocated by organisations within the UK3 and the USA,5 to ascertain if PE is active enough (table 1). However, each objective lacks grounding in contemporary evidence and, despite assumptions of their equivalence, contain profound differences. Furthermore, overdiligent pursuit of these objectives by research and policy may result in teachers prioritising fitness-based activities over others, such as those that develop physical literacy.6 This is despite increased fundamental movement skill competency, a key component of physical literacy, predicting increased adolescent PA.6

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Table 1

A summary of objectives to increase activity within physical education

The evidence underpinning current objectives (table 1) is anachronistic, particularly as objective measures of PA are now used to evaluate PA in PE. …

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