PE Timeline


Beginning of Physical Education in School

Physical education in schools started in Germany, Sweden, Denmark and England.

Approx. 1780

Gymnastics, hygiene, and care of the human body introduced into the school curriculum.


Round Hill Private School in Northampton, Massachusetts was the first school in the nation to make it an integral part of their eduction.


First entire public school system in the U.S. to implement a physical education program in Cincinnati, Ohio.


California is the first state to pass a law requiring exercise twice a day in public schools.


Becoming a Physical Education Instructor

Jean-Jacques Rousseau invented an activity that is still used by millions of children every day - recess.


Johan Simon is the first modern physical education teacher.


The first PE teacher, Charles Beck, was hired in the U.S.


The International Young Men’s Christian Association College at Springfield, Massachusetts, began operations. The mission of this institution was to prepare physical education teachers for the YMCA.


Educators could begin to select a profession in physical education.


Physical Education is offered as a major to teachers in over 400 colleges in the U.S.


Government and Physical Education

President Eisenhower established the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.


Physical fitness tests issued in U.S. and Europe. The tests included leg lifts, sit-ups, truck lifts and toe touches. 56% of Americans failed at least 1 portion of the test. Only 8% of European students failed at least 1 portion of the same test. Due to this, President Eisenhower established the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

JFK developed a proposed PE curriculum, built off of Eisenhower’s PE initiatives.

1961 - 1962

A quarter of a million schoolchildren across 6 states adopted the Presidential Fitness Test for 1 school year.

1961 - 1962

President’s Physical Fitness Award provided recognition for students who scored in the 15th percentile on specific activities.


PEP (Physical Education for Progress) was first passed with $5 million in grants for school physical education programs.


Title IX

Title IX is passed.


The NCAA crowns Division I national champions for the first time in women's cross-country, field hockey, volleyball, swimming, basketball, golf, gymnastics, tennis, outdoor track and softball.


First Olympic marathon for women.


Teresa Phillips is the first female coach of a Division 1 NCAA men’s basketball team.


Arizona Cardinals hire Jen Welter, the first female coach in NFL history.