Should PE lessons at UAA be mandatory?

This is an essay I wrote for an English project in 10th grade. It discussed whether physical education (PE) lessons should be mandatory at Uskudar American Academy (UAA) or not.

This paper is not to be reproduced in any way. The content is my work and belongs to me as the author. I must be cited as the author if anyone wishes to quote or paraphrase.



Physical education (PE) classes are school classes that aim to engage students in physical activities such as sports or games. Letting every student set their own pace, getting students to engage in a wide range of physical activities, appreciating students’ efforts, and providing feedback on the effort are among PE classes’ goals (“Children”). At UAA, PE classes are mandatory for MEB students and unavailable for IB students. PE classes at UAA should continue to be mandatory because PE classes improve health and academic performance, teach basic life skills, and students to enjoy PE classes.


Why should PE classes be mandatory?

Besides the advantages, there are various disadvantages to making PE classes mandatory. First of all, not everyone is gifted in sports. For example, a taller person in basketball is more advantageous than a shorter person because the taller person can reach the hoop or pass the ball to other players without being blocked more easily. Second of all, a person can perform poorly in PE class and be subject to peer judgment, pressure, and bullying (Mengeş “Should”). Third of all, less motivated students can negatively affect motivated students. If PE classes become mandatory, all students would have to take PE classes, including students who do not enjoy PE classes. Students who do not enjoy PE classes might be less motivated to put effort into it, with some even doing the bare minimum. This would hurt motivated students who put effort into the class in a teamwork scenario. Unmotivated students might drag the team down with them, negatively affecting motivated students (Mengeş “Should”).


Exercise is beneficial to individuals’ health overall. Being physically active prevents a variety of diseases and disorders such as cancer, coronary heart disease, dementia, and depression (“Benefits”). Therefore, a person who exercises regularly has a lower chance of getting those diseases and disorders. PE classes also aim to teach the habit of lifelong exercise so that students exercise not only while they are adolescents but also when they are adults (Orer). Accordingly, PE classes contribute to students’ health throughout their lifetime.


Some health organizations worldwide have recommendations about the minimum amount of time teens should exercise. In the US, the advice of The National Association for Sport and Physical Education states that teens should engage in at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity (“Children”). Internationally, the World Health Organization recommendation goes by that teens should engage in at least 150 minutes of weekly physical activity (Orer).


Nevertheless, teens do not exercise enough. According to the World Health Organization, more than 80% of students worldwide do not engage in daily physical activity for a minimum of 60 minutes (“New WHO-led”). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the US, only 24% of children with ages ranging from 6 to 17 undertake at least an hour of daily physical activity (“Physical”). Additionally, from a survey conducted among 120 teens in UAA, only 60.8% of teens said they exercise outside of school (Mengeş “Should”).


Exercise also boosts adolescents’ cognition and memory performance. Higher levels of aerobic fitness in children are correlated with a larger hippocampus and dorsal striatal, which enhances cognition (Chaddock et al. “Basal”). Children who engage in more physical activity also show better memory performance (Chaddock et al. “A Neuroimaging”). Moreover, according to a study conducted using the data of 1,221,727 Swedish men who were 18 years old, researchers found that higher levels of physical activity are associated with higher cognitive performance (Åberg et al.). These findings suggest that exercise improves brain function.


Furthermore, exercise and PE classes boost academic performance. Children who are more fit score higher on tests designed to measure academic performance (Chaddock-heyman et al. “III”). In addition, according to World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe, increased time in PE classes likely improves academic performance (“WHO reviews”). Another piece of evidence that supports this claim comes from the book Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School, which goes that “increasing physical activity may improve academic performance”, which means that getting students to be more physically active might result in higher academic performance (Kohl and Cook). As well as that, a systemic review of studies about the relationship between academic performance and level of physical fitness suggests that the level of physical activity has the possibility of being positively associated with the level of academic performance (Rasberry et al.) Moreover, according to a study conducted by the organization Active Living Research, regularly engaging in physical activity boosts brain functions and academic performance (“Active Education”).


Exercise and PE classes also prevent mental health problems and provide enjoyment for students. For example, physical inactivity is associated with a higher risk of depression among 18-year-olds (Kandola et al.). Another example is that, according to an interview with a PE teacher at UAA, the lack of a PE lesson in an individual’s weekly routine might induce depression or problems sleeping (Orer). Finally, from a survey conducted among 91 teens in UAA, 64.8% of students enjoy PE class (Mengeş “Should”). It can be concluded that PE classes provide enjoyment for most teens and decrease the risk of various mental health problems at UAA.


Moreover, PE classes teach essential life skills. According to an interview with a PE teacher at UAA, the mentality of PE lessons is to teach students critical life skills via physical activity (Orer). For example, it can be argued that teamwork is a crucial life skill. PE classes often include sports that require teamwork. Mandatory PE classes force all students to engage in teamwork, making them practice a critical life skill in the real-world (Orer).


Additionally, students at UAA want and prefer PE classes instead of other classes. From a survey conducted among 70 teens in UAA, 84.3% of them would not prefer to have an academic class instead of PE during PE class hours, and 60% of them think their mental health would be negatively affected if they had an academic class instead of PE in PE class hours (Mengeş “Academic”).


Finally, the UAA administration can eliminate the disadvantages of making PE classes mandatory at UAA and improve PE classes. Firstly, the administration should create an intensive training program for PE teachers that strongly focuses on monitoring, detecting, and preventing harsh peer judgment and bullying. The training program should also emphasize that PE teachers should never judge students for their poor performance since not everyone is gifted equally in sports. PE teachers should evaluate and grade students’ efforts instead since it is one of the main aims of PE classes, according to the National Association for Sport & Physical Education of the US (“Children”). Since UAA is an American high school, it would be suitable for UAA to follow NASPE guidelines in determining and proceeding with the main aims of PE classes. The training program should also include pedagogical tactics to motivate less-motivated students since less-motivated students affect other students negatively in a teamwork scenario. In addition, UAA administrators should focus on increasing the amount of PE classes a week since increased time spent in PE classes is associated with better academic performance (“WHO reviews”). UAA administration can achieve this by making students fill out a survey to determine which classes will be replaced by PE classes, or the administration can discuss these class changes with the Student Council and proceed accordingly.



In conclusion, PE classes at UAA should continue to be mandatory because PE classes improve health and academic performance, teach basic life skills, and students enjoy PE classes. Furthermore, if it becomes optional, not everyone will benefit from PE classes (Orer). Although students who exercise outside of school benefit from exercise, not all students exercise. It is also not guaranteed that students who exercise will continue to exercise. In addition, exercise in PE classes is much more accessible than exercise outside school since the fee for exercising in PE classes is already included in school tuition. Finally, some disadvantages of making PE classes mandatory, such as harsh peer pressure in PE classes and dependence on performance on being gifted or not in a sport, could be eliminated by training programs established by the UAA administration.



Works Cited

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  • Children Need Greater Amount of Physical Activity In 2004. National Association for Sport And Physical Education, 2003. PDF File.

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  • Mengeş, Eren. “Should PE classes be optional?.” Survey. Google LLC. 10 March 2022. Web. 25 March 2022.

  • Mengeş, Eren. “Academic lessons instead of PE.” Survey. Google LLC. 23 March 2022. Web. 25 March 2022.

  • “New WHO-led study says majority of adolescents worldwide are not sufficiently physically active, putting their current and future health at risk.” World Health Organization, 22 Nov. 2019, Accessed 25 Mar. 2022.

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