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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

View this table:
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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  • Contributors All authors have made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work and drafting of the work/revising it critically for important intellectual content. Once the final version was sent around, they all approved the final version which will be published and in doing so agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

  • Competing interests None declared

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Correction notice This paper has been amended since it was published Online First. Owing to a scripting error, some of the publisher names in the references were replaced with ’BMJ Publishing Group'. This only affected the full text version, not the PDF. We have since corrected these errors and the correct publishers have been inserted into the references.