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Ill. Enacts Law to Bolster Physical Education in Schools

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a law that calls for the creation of an "Enhance Physical Education Task Force," in an effort to improve the state's physical education offerings.

The law requires the newly created task force to make recommendations to the governor on how to update the state's phys. ed. standards, based on research linking physical activity and learning, by Aug. 31, 2013.

"This law helps us take a serious look at the positive impact PE has on students," said the law's co-sponsor, state Sen. Linda Holmes, in a statement. "It benefits them both physically and mentally. Studies show that physical activity increases the ability to concentrate and improves cognitive function. There is a connection between a healthy body and a healthy mind."

A study published online in January in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found "strong evidence" of a connection between physical activity and academic performance.

When signing the law on Saturday, the governor also promoted his Walk Across Illinois Challenge, which calls for all state residents to walk 167 miles this year.

"Today we want to encourage people to be fit, be healthy, and walk across Illinois," Quinn said in a statement. "This new law is another step in the right direction to help the citizens of Illinois improve their health and wellness."

Illinois currently requires all K-12 schools to offer daily physical education, but does not require daily recess, according to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

Recess made its way back to all Chicago schools this school year, however, due to the district's new plan to extend the school day.

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