Why Physical Education is so Important

Kids from Seattle to Syracuse are more overweight, less active, and less healthy than ever before. And while everyone from the surgeon general to the First Lady to the pediatrician around the corner is hooting and hollering about what a shame this is, not much seems to be changing.

Many parents aren’t really educated about the problem, teachers are often left with little to no choice as PE grants and funding are harder than ever to come by and our educational focus has turned to improving academic standardized tests, and community leaders can’t find solutions other than to offer more and more sports programs that really only serve the already physically fit and capable children in the community.

What’s all the fuss about, you ask? Well, it turns out that PE is important, and not just once a week or for one 6-week term a year. Let’s look at what’s going on and why there’s a reason to demand change.

The Problem

  • No classes offered – In June 2012, the CDC released a survey of high school students nationwide. Nearly 50% said they had no weekly gym classes or other weekly PE curriculum offered. In New York City, that figure was 20%, and there the mayor was a huge proponent of PE in the city’s schools.
  • Not enough time – According to the CDC’s study, about half of the classes that were offered only averaged 20 minutes. With the physical activity standard for children being 60 minutes a day, even those who had classes weren’t getting enough time in them to make them worthwhile.
  • No qualified teachers – Teachers and principals across the country voiced complaints that their schools didn’t have anyone to teach their PE curriculum. And there seems to be very little support from state and national departments of education to rectify the problem. There’s no active PE recruiting going on, by either school boards or colleges, to provide qualified PE teachers for the students.
  • No money – The biggest concern or cause of the problem seems to stem from the fact that PE programs are easy fodder for the budgetary chopping block. Every time the school system has to tighten its belt a notch or two, PE is one of the first things to go, along with art and music. Perhaps this is because of the emphasis on academics and rigorous testing, or perhaps it’s because educators, though aware of the importance of PE, still don’t seem to “get it.”

The Cause for Concern

  • According to the CDC’s study, 13% of the youth surveyed were clinically obese. And that’s just those who participated in the study.
  • Only 2% of schools nationwide require daily PE for all students in all grades.
  • Studies have shown that physical activity helps with concentration and mental focus. PE, then, can lead to better grades and fewer behavior problems.
  • Physical activity creates better sleep, and better sleep patterns and habits. The more rested a child is, the better he will learn. Again, PE can lead to better grades and test scores.
  • The less-rigid structure of PE classes and intramural sports leads to opportunities for students to develop better social skills. This can help improve overall mental health and self-esteem.
  • Lifelong habits can be formed if a child learns early on that activity and fitness can be fun.

So, if PE classes can offer all this to our kids, and our kids clearly need it, then why can’t educators and administrators see it, too? What’s it going to take before school officials, the ones running the show, realize just how important PE is, and why our children need it so much?
Source by Candice Archer

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