Heading down to the hockey field on a cold autumn day with the knowledge that you’re about to spend 40 minutes running around a damp pitch is bound to cause mixed reactions amongst students. Those students deemed ‘sporty’ will embrace the opportunity to spend time playing sports, whilst other students will reluctantly tag along, all the while dreaming of a warm classroom.
Physical education (P.E) is a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ kind of subject, with many students expressing extreme views. However, P.E is a compulsory subject in the National Curriculum from the age of 4 to 16. This means that even if students hate the idea of a bit of fresh air, most schools will enforce the guidelines of two hours of sports and games a week.
Just as there are a mix of opinions over the enjoyment of P.E, there’s also mixed views on the importance of it in schools. This poses the question: how important is P.E for children?
The Benefits of Physical Education in Schools
P.E is not just about burning some energy outside of the classroom, there are an abundance of benefits of physical exercise in schools. Here are four examples of why P.E is so important for children:
What can regular physical exercise lower the risk of you developing?
1) Promotes Positive Mental Health
The importance of positive mental health has been growing in schools, and P.E is one of the best ways to support it. Physical activity can help children to increase their self-esteem and improve their confidence. Structured P.E classes, where children are challenged and have ample opportunity to burn energy, can also help to reduce anxiety, stress and depression.
There’s significant evidence to support the role that physical activity can play in improving mental health in adults and children.
2) Improves Physical Fitness
Perhaps the most indisputable advantage of physical activity is that it increases physical fitness and overall health. Research has proven that regular physical exercise can lower the risk of developing cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Physical activity also helps to strengthen the body, increase endurance, and improve cholesterol levels.
3) Controls the Risk of Obesity
Obesity in childhood is on the rise in the UK, with almost 1 in 10 children aged 4 and 5, and 1 in 5 children aged 10 and 11, classed as obese. P.E is a highly effective way to help control and prevent obesity in children and teenagers.
P.E is a great way for children to lose weight, but it also has long-term benefits. By introducing children to fun and challenging exercise at an early age, it can encourage them to continue with regular exercise and sport later in life.
4) Enhances Academic Ability
Getting outside in P.E classes and during breaks can have a profound effect on academic performance. Research has linked physical activity to improved maths and reading ability, as well as enhanced cognitive function, which can lead to improvements in all areas of study.
Physical activity is incredibly important for great brain health. Regular activities could help children to concentrate more in class, increase their grades, and improve behaviour.
How Secure is the Future of P.E?
The future of P.E as part of the curriculum is, like many subjects, under threat. Between exam pressures and time constraints in primary and secondary schools, many schools are pushing P.E to the wayside to focus on more academic subjects. In a recent survey, 38% of teachers in secondary schools said that there had been a reduction in time allocated to P.E for 14-16-year olds.
P.E has some outstanding benefits that can help children in primary and secondary school to lead much healthier lifestyles, both mentally and physically. For the healthy development of children and teenagers, P.E is still a very important subject.
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