According to the CDC, children 6 to 17 years old should do 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day. The tragic reality is that less than 25% of kids follow those guidelines. Many children are extremely inactive and do not participate in any extra-curricular activities. What would happen if our students were no longer granted access to quality physical education?
Participating in a high-quality PE program may provide numerous benefits for students, perhaps more than any other subject. Physical education is critical to our health, well-being, and overall development. Unfortunately, it is not always understood by everyone. The fact is that we, as educators, must be our students' and others' own strongest advocates. We must identify and promote the unique benefits of physical education to all members of our community. Here are ten of the many reasons why physical education is so important:
1. Encourages physical activity for life
Regular exercise and movement are required for optimum health in our lives. A physical education class is the ideal setting for instilling healthy habits and acquiring an understanding of one's own fitness and mobility abilities. Daily physical education is an essential component of a complete educational program. It encourages children to be physically active and develop the abilities and confidence they need to be active throughout their lives, which is beneficial for them both physically and emotionally.
Keeping active for life as a result of a quality PE program directly correlates with Shape America's Standard 5: The physically literate individual recognizes the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and/or social interaction*. This recognition can be acquired early and maintained for a lifetime.
2. Helps prevent sickness and disease
Regular exercise can not only improve your physical health, but it may also help you avoid illness and disease. Physical activity has been linked to a strengthened immune system, which makes us less likely to get sick. It also aids in the reduction of stress, improvement of mental health, weight management, and overall energy levels. And since PE classes are a great way to get people moving, they can play a big role in keeping our students healthy.
3. Provides an outlet for creativity and self-expression
PE gives young people the opportunity to express themselves in a different way than they do in the classroom. They can let loose, have fun, and be creative without having to worry about grades or competition. PE is a great outlet for kids who may not be as academically inclined as their peers. It allows them to still feel like they're part of the class and gives them a chance to show their personality.
Physical education also provides an outlet for kids who are shy or introverted. It's a great way for them to get out of their shell and interact with other kids in a non-threatening environment. It may be a wonderful opportunity for kids to have some fun, discover their talents, and just be themselves.
4. Develops cooperation and teamwork
Physical education helps students develop social skills and the ability to work cooperatively and effectively with others. In PE, students learn how to share, take turns, and cooperate with classmates to accomplish a common goal. These skills are essential for success in school and later on, in the workplace. It can also help a student develop teamwork skills by teaching them how to communicate effectively, set goals, and problem-solve as a team. These skills are essential for success in any endeavor.
Developing a cooperative, collaborative attitude is crucial for meeting Shape America's Standard 4 which reads: The physically literate individual exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others*. The capacity to respect oneself and others may be extended to all aspects of a child's or adolescent's life
5. Builds self-confidence
Physical education classes help to develop self-assurance and determination in children. It can help to boost confidence, as they see themselves achieving their goals and improving their abilities. A student's confidence can be greatly enhanced if they improve their fitness level or acquire new movement skills. They also learn how to cooperate with others and handle winning and losing gracefully. These are all vital abilities for youngsters who compete in outside individual and team sports.
Shape America's Standard 2 reads: The physically literate individual applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies, and tactics related to movement and performance*. This is applied when a young person learns a new skill or movement in a PE class. They can then apply that knowledge to be more self-assured in a game or performance-based sports setting.
6. Provides opportunities for personal goal-setting
One of the most outstanding features of PE is the opportunity it provides students to create individual goals and self-discipline. This could be anything from improving their fitness levels to learning a new sport or perfecting a particular skill set. Having something to aim for gives children a real sense of purpose and motivation in PE, which can carry over into other areas of their lives.
Setting goals also helps children to track their progress and see how far they've come. This can be a great source of pride and satisfaction. Teachers can help students establish goals for themselves, which is an excellent approach to motivate them to reach Shape America's Standard 3: The physically literate individual demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness*.
7. Increases personal fitness and motor skill development
Physical education is a prime outlet for kids and adolescents to intentionally develop both their health and skill-related components of fitness. Students who participate in regular physical activity can get a lot out of their PE lessons. This is accomplished through repetition, practice, and creative movement situations. They may learn more about their bodies and how to use them appropriately in a variety of settings.
PE is a broad discipline that includes numerous options for students to participate in team and individual sports, dance, and gymnastics. A skill acquired early in life may be transferred to other similar skills or activities and put to use for the remainder of one's life, resulting in better health as an adult.
The physical benefits of developing personal fitness and motor skills are directly linked to Shape America's Standard 1: The physically literate individual demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns*. Physical education may be the only opportunity for younger individuals to learn a variety of motor skills and move their bodies in a meaningful way.
8. Helps reduce stress and anxiety
PE can be the perfect outlet to reduce stress and anxiety for young people. When kids are allowed to be active and move their bodies at school, it becomes a natural body and mind energizer that makes the rest of the day far more enjoyable. According to recent research, physical education may play an important role in lowering cortisol levels, which is linked to stress. Physical activity may help to improve mood and emotional stability. Regular physical exercise can also aid in the prevention of anxiety disorders. These anti-stress benefits, in the end, assist children and adolescents to become better students.
9. Strengthens relationships with others
Physical education is not only about enhancing one's physical capabilities and motor skills. It's also about teaching individuals to collaborate and develop leadership skills. Students are frequently forced to work together as part of their PE lessons to complete assigned activities or objectives. This allows them to strengthen relationships with their classmates. In some cases, these relationships can last a lifetime. PE can also help to build communication skills and teach students how to better manage conflict. All of these factors contribute to the development of strong, healthy relationships with others.
10. Boosts academic learning
Numerous studies have shown that there is a strong link between physical activity and academic achievement. PE can improve concentration, attention, and memory, as well as reduce stress and fatigue. All of these factors can lead to improved grades and test scores.
Physical activity can help to increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which can improve cognitive function. PE can also help to improve students’ executive functioning skills, such as planning, organizing, and multitasking.
Another way that PE boosts academic performance is by improving energy levels and mood. Physical activity boosts the production of endorphins, which can help to improve mood and energy levels in kids. This can make it easier to focus and learn in the classroom.
Physical education is an important part of a student's overall education. It provides opportunities for students to improve their physical fitness and motor skills, while also developing teamwork skills and relationships with others. PE can also boost their academic performance by improving focus, concentration, and energy levels.
All of these benefits make PE an essential part of the educational experience for students of all ages. Physical education is an important part of a well-rounded education and should be required in all schools. So let's do our part to promote physical education in schools and keep our students strong in body and mind!
Do you think PE should be a mandatory part of the educational curriculum? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Video- Why Physical Education?
Check out Pete's video entitled Why Physical Education? 10 Reasons for and 6 Steps to Advocate.
*SHAPE America. (2013). National Standards for K-12 Physical Education. Reston, VA: Author
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