Parents send their children to school to grow in mind and body. Academic areas of the curriculum address mental growth, but to ensure optimum physical growth and fitness, there needs to be regular, structured Physical Education lessons in every school.
Ideally, every school should have a certified Physical Education specialist, who plans and conducts all the classes for every grade. Often, the classroom teacher doesn’t have the knowledge, the expertise or the inclination to do so, but is forced into it because there is no one else to do the job.
It would be cost effective for every school board in every community to provide funding for a qualified Phys. Ed. teachers. The lessons they could provide would not only enhance students’ academic progress and also promote their life-long fitness. This last factor would be a positive influence on future medical care costs for all citizens.
Among the many benefits of regular, competently-presented Physical Education lessons are the following:
* They promote academic learning. Regular exercise increases the flow of blood which carries nutrients and oxygen to the brain. This improves cognitive functioning. The student is able to concentrate more fully for longer periods of time once he returns to the classroom.
* They increase muscle strength and fitness. The student develops stamina and flexibility. His motor skills and eye-hand coordination are improved.
* They provide long-term health benefits: leaner bodies, reduced rates of obesity, fewer cases of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease.
* Students learn good sportsmanship. They practice the skills of problem-solving, formulating strategies, and working together as a team to achieve a goal. They come to realize that there are more important things than winning or losing.
* Regular physical activity reduces feelings of anxiety and depression and promotes feelings of well-being.
* Students who exercise regularly are known to sleep better, and to handle physical and emotional challenges more calmly.
* Those students who play sports, like basketball, hockey, or martial arts may discover hidden talents and go on to build careers as professional athletes. All contenders develop self-discipline and grow in self-confidence.
* A comprehensive Physical Education program will provide information on related topics such as good grooming, a healthy diet, and age-appropriate safety rules.
* Classes will introduce students to a variety of sports so that they can choose one or several to continue into adult life. Thus they have the means to maintain their fitness level after they leave school. Some of these sports or activities may include golf, bowling, jogging, swimming, hiking, and skating.
Many academic subjects, worthy as they are, will only be useful during one’s school career. The nesting habits of the cuckoo bird or the journey of Cortez to the New World will hardly be items of primary interest at age 40. On the other hand, having good weather for next weekend’s golf game is quite likely to be of prime concern. Physical Education lessons, long ago, laid the basis for this continuing fitness routine.
As Plato once observed, “Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”
For further information: