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W V Med J. 2013 Jul-Aug;109(4):66-70.

Physical education in West Virginia schools: are we doing enough to generate peak bone mass and promote skeletal health?

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Marshall University, Dept. of Orthopaedic Surgery, 1600 Medical Center Dr., Ste. G-500, Huntington, WV 25701, USA.


Peak bone mass (PBM) is attained at 25-35 years of age, followed by a lifelong decline in bone strength. The most rapid increase in bone mass occurs between the ages of 12-17. Daily school physical education (PE) programs have been shown to produce measurable increases in PBM, but are not federally mandated. Increases in PBM can decrease the lifelong risk of osteoporosis and fractures; critical for West Virginia prevention programs. Nationally only 1 in 6 schools require PE three days per week, with 4% of elementary schools, 8% of middle schools and 2% of high schools providing daily PE. In 2005, West Virginia passed the Healthy Lifestyles Act that returned physical education to the K-12 curriculum. This law requires only one credit of PE from grades 9-12 and provides only 35% of the recommended PE for grades K-12. This article highlights the relationship of PE to PBM and discusses the potential impact on West Virginia skeletal health.

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