Health class could be even healthier

Health class could be even healthier

Merging a semester of Health with a semester of PE into a yearlong course would help students stay out from behind yet another desk.

Kate Alaks, Staff Reporter

I believe in Health class.

I believe that students need to understand their bodies and healthful behaviors.

Nevertheless, taking students out of their normal PE classes so they can sit in a classroom for another period is hardly something I’d call healthy. And yet that’s what happens for almost every student in the building for a whole semester in Health class.

We can do better.

Along with classes such as Fine Arts Survey and Economics, RB students are required to take one semester of Health. Most students take this during their sophomore year in place of a semester of PE. The purpose of Health is to teach students about how their body works and how to take care of themselves.

However, in my opinion, the design of Health class is somewhat hypocritical.

One of the first things you learn in Health is that teenagers should be doing physical activity every day, preferably 60 minutes of it. Activity promotes healthy body weight, the immune system, muscles, bones, and just about everything else. And yet we’ve been taken out of PE for a whole semester to take notes on how we shouldn’t be sitting around taking notes. In addition, we never get to go outside during Health, while we sometimes would for PE. On top of all that, Health is another class that assigns homework, albeit not a huge amount, that still forces students to spend more time after school being sedentary.

I feel like a solution would be to merge Health and PE and make a year-long class for sophomores. Students have to take a year total of Health and PE and combining them would have many benefits.

For example, units in gym could correspond to units of health. For example, students could visit the weight room the week after taking notes on muscle groups, or have a day of yoga during the mental health unit. The combined class would give each aspect more relevance. In addition, alternating the type of class would reduce stress on students who have trouble with either PE or Health.

What then are the reasons behind how Health class is set up now?

One of the reasons is scheduling. The State of Illinois mandates students to take seven semesters of PE and one semester of Health during their high school career, and a combined class might cause problems with the standards.  In addition, there are scheduling conflicts within the school. In a year, there are twelve sections of Health in addition to normal PE classes not enough gym space for all of those classes.

In addition, since Health classes contain a variety of students with different learning abilities and motivations, Health teachers believe that it is best practice to teach the information in condensed chunks, so students have a better chance of remembering the information. With this strategy, taking a day off for even a related activity would make it harder for students to retain information.

The situation has changed since last year, also, because students no longer have the option to use the Wellness Center and weight room outside of school hours due to financial cutbacks.

Despite the practical difficulties of putting together a combined Heath class, I still believe that such a class would be better for the students. I think that adding physical activity from the class, far from distracting students, would make the lessons more meaningful in regards to their own lives, which should be the entire point of the class. The well- being of the students, which is the core goal of the class in the first place, should not be shortchanged just so they can be fed information quickly enough that so they won’t forget it before the test. For the good of the students, the school should try to find a way to make health class even healthier.