Increasing children's physical activity means they will lead much healthier lives down the road. That is just one of the many reasons physical education is a crucial part of school.
Why Kids Need Physical Activity
As human beings we have at least three very important parts: A mind to think, a body to do the physical movements required for daily activities, and the symbiotic relationship of the heart and spirit which produces emotions and feelings. Taking into account this simple idea, any successful educational program should pay attention to each one of these areas if it aspires to produce a holistic development in the students.
These words are a small effort to share with you some ideas about the second part of the human being, the body. Gain some insight into the objectives for an appropriate physical education program, and about the kind of activities that may be introduced to achieve these goals.
Developing Good Habits
The habits that an individual develops in childhood are fundamental for habits that he will have for the rest of his life. There are plenty of studies that demonstrate that exercise is one of the most important factors of good health. Exercise, along with diet and good sleeping habits, helps prevent cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart problems, osteoporosis and many other common ailments.
Exercise Equals a Better State of Mind
Other studies show the relationship between exercise and psychological health. Exercise reduces stress, produces a feeling of wellness, improves sleep and many other things.
Help The Kids For Later in Life
When people participate in exercise on a regular basis during childhood and adolescence they are more likely to exercise during adulthood, living a longer, healthier and happier life. Developing key habits in childhood is conducive to a better lifestyle in adulthood. Moreover, some diseases in childhood are preventable with exercise: this includes ailments like obesity and diabetes, which have terrible consequences in the future. Some researchers found that the probability of developing cancer is much higher when the individual suffered from obesity in childhood, even if he or she loses weight afterwards.
Fight Off Illness and Disease
Exercise even has benefits in people who actually are ill. Insulin intake decreases among diabetics when they increase their physical activity. Exercise improves the recovery rate for diseases such as cancer, arteriosclerosis, obesity and artrosis. There is plenty of evidence for the benefits of physical exercise.
Given these facts, what should be the objectives for a physical education program? How can a school achieve their goals? How can a teacher inspire their students?
The Real Aspects of Physical Education
What is Physical Activity? More Than Just Sports
Most people, even teachers, confuse physical activity with sports, but it is not the same thing. Physical activity is a big category that comprises, as the words say, any kind of activity that requires physical movement to do so. Jogging, walking, cycling, tai chi, hide-and-seek, weights, football, tennis, aerobics, all of them are different types of physical activity.
There are different ways of categorizing different kinds of physical activity. For example, sports are a sub-category of “games" and could be defined as a type of game which is very standardized and has a strong competitive emphasis. We also have the category of “fitness" which involves a big range of activities guided by and instructor or a monitor with the aim of maximize the health benefits of exercise. Then we have the “free outdoor" physical activities, as climbing, walking, running, and so on.
I suggest those who are interested in a more detailed classification or in a deeper description of what physical activity is to read Parlebas, a french physical education theorist and one the most influential in that area. Those who like the debate about whether chess is a sport or not will find interesting the controversial reflections of Parlebas as well.
So What is a Physical Education Class?
After knowing this, we can comprehend that a physical education class is not a sports’ class. It is a class where different kinds of and different ways of doing physical activity are introduced, with the purpose of educating the students through them. The teacher is mean to engage the students in four aspects: mental, physical, social and emotional.
This said, in the next article in this series we will explore, in practical terms, how to organize a yearly physical education classes whose objectives will be, as it was said in other occasion, “to help the students to fall in love with exercise in such a way that they introduce it in their lives on a regular basis".