Sophomores Ryan Lim (left) and Husieon Rho and play handball against the wall outside of the girls’ lockers during their fourth period PE class Friday, March 1.
Sophomores Ryan Lim (left) and Husieon Rho and play handball against the wall outside of the girls’ lockers during their fourth period PE class Friday, March 1.
Asaph Li

HEAD TO HEAD: Should zero period PE be offered?

PRO: Zero period exercise provides undeniable benefits

Zero period PE might sound like a hassle.

Having to come to school by 7:27 a.m. and waking up around an hour earlier just to change clothes; run a lap around the field; play pickleball, badminton, soccer or some other sport for around 40 minutes and then dress out of PE clothes doesn’t exactly sound appealing for the average high schooler. 

But despite the unappealing nature of morning exercise, this new opportunity provides undeniable benefits. 

The Sunny Hills administration should make efforts to implement a zero period PE class, considering it provides several advantages.

Offering the class earlier in the day would benefit not only the students but also the school faculty. First, administrators would be able to spread students among their different classes with more ease, not having to worry about fitting people in their respective periods. 

PE classes often flood with freshmen and sophomores needing to fill their needed physical education credit for their college requirements. Creating another period for the class can help lower the number of people per period.

Additionally, school equipment often runs out while playing group sports, forcing students to take turns sitting out. Fewer students would mean additional time for more people to play at once.

When I had first-period PE last year, the lack of balls forced some people to walk around the basketball courts some days.

Some naysaying students may argue that exercising in the morning may lead to fatigue and reduced focus during the rest of the day, as students might find it difficult to concentrate in class after sweating from physically demanding activities.

But, this belief is far from the truth.

Although afternoons could get extremely hot, students can avoid dehydrating or sweating excessively in their following classes by exercising in the morning — when weather conditions are much cooler.

Plus, according to an August 2023 Velotric study with 1,002 American participants, morning exercisers were 129% more likely than those who exercised at other times to feel productive after physical activity and were more satisfied with their jobs.

If you still have doubts, it might be worth mentioning that before the bell schedule changed during the 2022-23 school year, first period PE would have started at 8:00. 

If Sunny Hills implemented a zero period class for PE just two years before, students would have started at 6:57 a.m., which is arguably much more tiring than this year’s 7:27 a.m. zero period. 

But considering the recent schedule change delaying all classes by 30 minutes now is the perfect time to add the class.

Although the class hasn’t been implemented during zero period before, PE teachers say the weight training and aerobics classes were offered more than five years ago.

Plus, the current PE teachers said that they’d be willing to come early and teach zero period PE if the administration created the class period, although our school doesn’t offer it yet.

And it looks like students want it too — out of 129 participants in a survey conducted on the online Accolade website, 57 people agreed with the implementation of a zero period PE class out of the 89 who took a stance on the topic. An earlier class can also help promote productivity, especially for students who struggle to exercise and study throughout the day.

According to a March 2018 study conducted by the University of Michigan, more exercise can lead to more happiness. 

The paper — which found that each additional minute of exercise led to an increase in happiness — utilized data from a total of 1,142 retrieved records and 23 previous studies from several different countries.

With zero period PE, students can feel more joyful and productive — even at school. 

Although it may take some time for people to readjust to this early morning course, the class offers irrefutable benefits for students and teachers.

After all, the early bird catches the worm, and with it a long-lasting boost of energy.

CON: Early morning workouts don’t make the grade

During my first three years of high school, I woke up before the sun, always groggy and cranky when trudging to my zero period class.

The one thing that motivated me to do so was my GPA.

According to U.S. News & World Report, our school is ranked within the Top 5% in California; our weekly newsletter from the principal often boasts of our high standing within the county and nation as well. 

So naturally, like other high-achieving students on campus, I strived for academic excellence throughout high school, always taking as many Advanced Placement and Honors classes as I possibly could. Though sacrificing sleep for a higher GPA was an easy choice to make, I would hesitate to make the same trade for exercise.

A zero period PE class would not work out because students don’t have control over what their early morning class will be.

Physical education in high school is important and mandatory. But to the large majority of students who decided to take a zero period for academic purposes, running laps around the school track at 7:30 a.m. will be a disappointing and frustrating experience because it’s a physically demanding class that doesn’t offer honors credit.

Because physical activity is required for at least two years anyway, creating an additional zero period class on top of the several PE and Aerobics classes our school offers isn’t necessary.

Additionally, our PE teachers and Aerobics instructor often collaborate to combine their classes. When I was taking Aerobics as a sophomore, I had frequent opportunities to stretch, run and play large team games like kickball with my peers from PE classes since we would often be on the field at the same time.

If we end up having a zero period PE, no other exercise classes would be on the field at the same time, which would give these students less immersive activities and games.

Several of my friends are also involved in our school’s athletic programs. When they have early morning sports practices, they complain about struggling to stay awake during their subsequent classes. They have also told me that their bodies aren’t warmed up enough to perform any physical activity with their usual skill or confidence when they exercise soon after waking up. The intention of promoting physical health could inadvertently result in mental fatigue and diminished overall well-being.

Especially for students who just aren’t into athletics and struggle to rise with the sun, it’s our worst nightmare to be jogging on a cold morning instead of being in a warm classroom. 

Being able to kickstart the day with a burst of physical energy is an alluring aspect of zero period PE, but the drawbacks raise valid concerns. 

Schools should explore more innovative approaches to student well-being without compromising holistic student development. I applaud students who willfully sacrifice their sleep for zero periods, but the trade-off for an early fitness class doesn’t seem worth it.

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