Why is Physical Education Needed in Schools?
1. In general, children who regularly engage in physical activity show stronger academic performance than peers who are more inactive, still, etc.
The strongest relationships have been found between aerobic activities and student performance in reading, English, and math.
2. Spending time on physical activities leads to health benefits for the body and brain, as well as enriched brain development.
The findings across several research studies indicate that increases in aerobic activity are related to improvements in brain structure and brain functions that underlie academic performance.
Regular participation in physical activity also leads to improvements in:
- working memory (e.g., when you use your working memory you recall and utilize information at the same time. For instance, your child is using their working memory as they remember the steps of a recipe while cooking a favorite meal.)
- problem-solving (analyzing the nature of a problem an figuring out how to solve it)
3. Children who participate in regular aerobic exercise are shown to take on tasks more independently and rely less on environmental cues and teacher prompting than less active peers.
4. Physical Activity Improves Mood & Self-Esteem
Research shows that staying active leads to a reduction in stress and anxiety, and improves self-esteem which leads to increases in focus, positive behaviors and choices.
Exercise/Movement can be accomplished in a variety of ways before, during, and after school.
- We can incorporate physical activity into learning [e.g., Class what is 5 + 3? Show me your answer by doing jumping jacks (8 jumping jacks)]
- We can give movement breaks (e.g., let’s do this 10-minute dance video before we do our next activity)
- We can incorporate exercise/sports in the school day (e.g., today in gym we are playing basketball)
And of course, parents and students are encouraged to participate in physical fitness outside of the school day (e.g., sports, martial arts, swimming, dancing, stretching, walking, jogging/running, bike riding, gymnastics, etc.).
Some students might benefit from a nice physical activity to break up their nightly homework into two shorter sessions.
Give them a few minutes to just sit and recoup as well, with a healthy snack and some water 🙂
Conclusions About The Benefits of Physical Education in Schools
Physical activity leads to an improvement in quality of life, which allows us to execute our skills more efficiently in the areas of academics, problem-solving, and working memory. Unfortunately, some students don’t have an outlet for physical activity outside of school. Taking these findings into consideration, the benefits of incorporating physical activity/education into the school day, outweigh the benefits of using school hours predominantly for academic instruction.
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Rachel Wise is a certified school psychologist and licensed behavior specialist with a Master’s Degree in Education. She is also the head author and CEO at educationandbehavior.com, a site for parents, caregivers, educators, counselors, and therapists to find effective, research-based strategies that work for children. Rachel has been working with individuals with academic and behavioral needs for over 20 years and has a passion for making a positive difference in the lives of children and the adults who support them. For Rachel’s top behavioral strategies all in one place, check out her book, Building Confidence and Improving Behavior in Children, a Guide for Parents and Teachers. If you want Rachel to write for your business, offer behavioral or academic consultation, or speak at your facility about research-based strategies that support children, email her at email@example.com.