Play time helps brain time
Try concentrating in a meeting past a couple of hours and you simply have to stretch. It’s what your body craves. The same is true for younger people. Kids need activity too. And planned activity in the form of physical education not only benefits students in the here and now, but also in the future.
Countless studies — including those reported by Active Learning Research — have advocated the benefits of physical education in schools’ curriculum. “Physical education makes for a better student, a better person, and a better citizen,” said Kathleen Walsh, principal of St. Margaret Mary Catholic School. “It’s about educating the whole child.”
The Winter Park Health Foundation supports that idea in their Healthy Kids Today publication with articles targeted at including physical activity as part of students’ daily routine.
According to the Physical Activity Guide published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there is strong evidence linking physical activity to improved cardiovascular health and endurance, as well as improved bone health in children and adolescents. There is even evidence linking physical activity to reducing anxiety and depression. In a 2010 report from the Center for Disease Control, a majority of the studies reviewed showed a positive association between physical education and academic performance.
A well-planned physical education program sets the stage for healthy choices. Through physical education young children can associate structured play with fun, learn general rules of play like taking turns, and simply recharge.
“They also fine-tune motor skills, practice listening, and learn how to support each other in actions and words,” said St. Margaret Mary Catholic School physical education teacher said Letitia Levi.
“Physical education designed with intent, helps students practice and advance in all those areas with repeated opportunities for learning.”
In addition, physical education provides an entry into organized sports with little at stake for the students. They learn basic rules of the games and what good sportsmanship looks like. That exposure offers an introduction into what can be a life-long interest. In turn participation in sports promotes healthy living, a way to connect socially and valuable teamwork skills.
For students, physical education is a win-win opportunity.