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Prev Med. 2014 Dec;69 Suppl 1:S5-11. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.09.006. Epub 2014 Sep 16.

Correlates of state enactment of elementary school physical education laws.

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Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education, Pennsylvania State University, United States. Electronic address:
Physical Activity Policy Research Program and Department of Kinesiology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, United States; Faculty, Policy, and Research, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, United States. Electronic address:
Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center, Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Denver, United States. Electronic address:



To describe variation in U.S. state elementary school physical education (PE) policies and to assess associations between state PE policy enactment and education funding, academic achievement, sociodemographic disadvantage, and political characteristics.


U.S. state laws regarding school PE time, staffing, curriculum, fitness assessment, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in 2012 were classified as strong/specific, weak/nonspecific, or none based on codified law ratings within the Classification of Laws Associated with School Students (C.L.A.S.S.). Laws were merged with state-level data from multiple sources. Logistic regression was used to determine associations between state characteristics and PE laws (N=51).


Laws with specific PE and MVPA time requirements and evidence-based curriculum standards were more likely in states with low academic performance and in states with sociodemographically disadvantaged populations. School day length was positively associated with enacting a PE curriculum that referenced evidence-based standards. School funding and political characteristics were not associated with PE laws.


Limited time and high-stake testing requirements force schools to prioritize academic programs, posing barriers to state passage of specific PE laws. To facilitate PE policy enactment, it may be necessary to provide evidence on how PE policies can be implemented within existing time and staffing structures.


Children's physical activity; Physical education policy; Public health law

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