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Academics are of great important, but so is having time for fitness and physical exercises in school. When children have an opportunity to play and run at recess, they focus and concentrate more during class time. The main aim of physical education to the young generation is to offer them with knowledge and skills necessary to keep them healthy as they grow up. Physical movement is a crucial part of how children learn. So as to keep children motivated and engaged, physical education activities must be enjoyable and highly interactive. This paper has looked on various benefits that are related to fitness and physical education. Moreover the paper has focused on some challenges that hinder implementation of a proper physical education program in schools.
Many of the young generation would highly prefer to be sitting inactively in front a computer or television rather than performing something physically active. Most of the students believe that they have insufficient time, guidance or opportunity to engage in physical activities. The perfect place where student would be able to find sufficient time, guidance and opportunities is in schools themselves. Educators are responsible for the compulsory physical education curriculum at the junior high school levels and should be commended for this, but frowned upon for not implementing it on senior high school students. Downs and Anne defines Physical Education as "the course of education that develops the individual body, in terms of movement skills and fitness (112). Physical education teaches students to have helpful skills that are applicable to the present and future life. Through physical education students are also able to learn how to interact and work with others to achieve their goals in a manner which academic subjects, such as science and mathematics, may not offer.
Those who oppose compulsory Physical Education schools believe that if a child has not developed an aspiration for deliberate physical activities by the time she or he is high school, she or he may not develop (Allison, 2005). It is factual that a student should not be merely forced into something he/she don’t like participating in, but if these students do not get any physical exercise outside the school environment, where will they get a suitable amount of physical fitness? Sam Eberhardt, athletic manager a head coach of the McNair basketball team in Raymond, N.C., supposes “students do not care about engaging in physical activities anymore and we have to teach these students on the fundamental importance of benefits of Physical Education". In the 1996-1997 school academic years there were 1,143 students enrolled at Nair High School, however there were only five physical education classes offered, which meant average of 120 students attended in these physical education classes (Downs & Anne 2005). The outstanding 1023 grade 11 and 12 students had no Physical Education at all. This is a shocking figure. "Many students get involved in recreation activities and sports outside of the school compound, but many of them obtain hardly any exercise at all. There is need for students to get a place where they can get involved in some kind of physical activity and exercise (Brailsford, 1992). School is right place where implementation of such physical activities can take place since it is in school you will find proper equipment and facilities that are required to accommodate the students and physical activities involved. If physical education is not made a compulsory subject then many of the students will not obtain the benefits which decent program can offer.
Physical education, fitness and health
The importance of Physical Education and fitness on young people health is extensive. Also, the High School Physical Education (n.d.) argued that regular physical activity is necessary to sustain fitness and health (1).The fitness and healthy lifestyles acquired from a good program are of high beneficial in controlling hyperkinetic diseases and developing quality health life. Insufficient physical activities results to deprived physical fitness that could lead to diseases such as such as lower back pain, diabetes, heart diseases and obesity. The main fundamental goal of physical education is tom achieve to prevent these hypokinetic diseases and gain physical wellness. Coe, Pivarnik &Womack, (2006) defines “physical wellness” as a measure of mental, emotional physical, mental, and spiritual health. For one to achieve “physical wellness”, students should try to mingle their academic studies with a physical activity that meets their desires. With practice of these students will not only feel healthier but they will also look healthier and better due to proper exercise and diet. Exercise is the major factor in the enlargement of muscles and reduction of overweight in an individual body (Jeanie, 2008). There are presently many overweight persons whom are unable to reduce weight. The American Cancer Society explained that daily quality physical education is very important in the student’s long-life health and well-being (1). Furthermore, improved coordinated school health programs which include physical education can help reverse the growing epidemic of childhood obesity (1). Also, they insisted that effective efforts that are made now will help children avoid lifetime chronic diseases and disabilities (1). Furthermor, they explicitly said that regular physical activity is associated with a healthier, longer life, and it prevents chronic heart diseases, obesity, diabetes, and other cancers (1). It is the responsibility of political leaders and educators in the school curriculum to make physical fitness a priority at an early age through educating young people on the substantial importance of physical wellness. The ultimate and best place to educate them would be in high school level; if not they may end up growing with little health knowledge. In accordance to statistics of Model of Physical Fitness textbook (2004), 50% of total death deaths that happen in the United States are closely associated lifestyle habits such as overweight, alcohol consumption and smoking. This lifestyle death can be greatly reduced and controlled through physical exercise and a healthier living. Not all deaths can be controlled, but by implementing a proper physical education program in an individual’s first stages of life, this individual will not only live an improved quality of life but also will live longer (Department of Health, 2004).
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Physical, intellectual and social benefits
Physical education offers a recipe of physical, social and intellectual challenges that other disciplines such as physics may not offer. Although the physical feature is the most central, it is not essentially the most important. Sports such as volleyball, basketball and hockey facilitate in refining and developing motor skills and improving coordination among the individuals. Muscular power and endurance are also improved, while flexibility is also enhanced through getting involved in sports activities (Jeanie, 2008). As already know, sport is not just a composer of physical skills, but also composed of knowledge and sharpness of the mind. An all way-round player possesses the capability of making quick and smart decisions during a play of game; this could be a high difference between a good and an average player, although their physical skills may be equivalent. What is distinctive about physical education is that the interaction between instructors and students is usually higher than in other subjects, and moreover the surrounding atmosphere is generally lively (McDonald, 2001). This interaction rate between the instructors and the students can lead to acquaintances and friendship that would not have developed in other classes; this is a great part of social and intellectual development. Also, studies generally support the suggestion from cross-sectional data that academic performance is maintained or even enhanced by an increase in a student’s level of habitual physical activity, despite a reduction in curricular or free time for the study of academic material (119). Studies demonstrate the positive effects daily physical activity has on student performance and academic achievement in terms of memory, observation, problem-solving and decision-making, as well as significant improvements in attitudes, discipline, behaviours and creativity (64). A student can study best in an environment that is pleasant, yet educationally productive. Furthermore, Grissom argued that physical education is not extracurricular; rather, it is a vital component in the student’s academic success (12). According to Grissom’s research, there are many studies that examine the relationship of physical education and academic achievement. This concluded that there is a significant correlation of academic success and physical education (12). Also, he explained that physical and other activities that promote good health promote intellectual capacity (24).
Physical activity, skillfulness and social function
Physical education also provides physical activity skillfulness that is necessary for social function. It teaches helpful skills such as interaction and communication with peers. The High School Physical Education (n.d.) explained that physical activities and performance involves a competence that enables the students to know how to maintain health and fitness as individuals and as members of teams (3). If these activity skills are not learnt at early ages then it is the duty of schools to teach on how to build up and apply these crucial skills. Also, a report by HM Inspectorate of Education regarding the Physical Education in Primary Schools explained that the success in physical education improves achievements in other areas of learning, and is closely related to intellectual and social development. Also, it builds self-esteem, cooperation, and communication (6). Communication skills are vital in many sides of life e.g.in a job interview communication skill may be a determining factor or just in a casual communication with a friend. "If students are not trained in social skills they habitually become self- mindful and shy in social interaction" (Epstein &Valoski, 1995). If play skills are not established at early stages then they will not be developed at all. Eventually this could be a serious factor which may end up affecting social behavior of young people and could result to delinquency, family and social problems. Students with such problems typically lack vital social skills which serve as being participative in group activities. Signs and symptoms of this may be nervousness and general lack of self-confidence during interaction with others. More significantly, physical activity gives students the chance to relieve pressure, stress and enjoy themselves.
Challenges facing to fitness and physical education
While these are definitely positive benefits and importance of fitness and physical education, there are also various stumbling blocks in establishing a consistent and reliable physical education program in schools. Many of the worldwide challenges put into headlines by UNESCO include financial and human resource constrains to carry out proper physical education programs (Shephard, Lavallee, Voile, & Beaucage, 1994). For example, UNESCO stated that there is a shortage of primary school educators who are properly trained in physical education. Moreover, set timetables for physical activities are not established, many schools lack space and equipment, and too many physical education teachers and trainers do not entirely value the importance of physical activity (Shephard, Lavallee, Voile, & Beaucage, 1994). Furthermore, A report by HM Inspectorate of Education regarding the Physical Education in Primary Schools said that the physical education within the school day is insufficient; that encouragements to participate in sports is a must to enable a positive impact on the student’s lifestyle (5). Moreover, a report by HM Inspectorate of Education regarding the Physical Education in Primary Schools reported that the physical education were very low in levels of developing fitness, designing and evaluating (7). Also, the report said that the structure and balance of the physical education programme is poor (10). Also, it was seen that many schools have difficulties in implementing the proper amount of time because of problems in storage areas of equipments, rooms for physical education class, and showering facilities for boys and girls (23). Moreover, the study said that another difficulty in physical education in schools is the quality or way of assessment. Teachers lack confidence and procedures were under-developed (33). Also, the monitoring and the evaluation is another problem to the school’s implementation. It was said in a health report that between 1981 and 1996, the number of obese children in Canada between the ages of seven and 13 tripled.This is contributing to a dramatic rise in illnesses such as type 2 diabetes,heart disease, stroke, hypertension and some cancers… many young people do not have the opportunity to be physically active every day… (2).
In addition to becoming well-informed about the recent political debates on physical education, school educators should all consider their own defined notions about the topic. They appear to be a wide-scale outlook among educators that physical education is of less importance compared to other forms of education. Evidence of this can be seen when contrasting what teachers say with what they really do. While most educators may orally agree that physical education is fundamental, they do not put into practice. They also don’t also fully support the government’s affirmed goals because they are scared that more focusing on physical education will make it harder to achieve their main objectives of teaching students how to read and write.
In conclusion the goal of education system should be mainly to educate and teach skills which can be relied upon in the present and future times. Students should not be dispossessed of something that will progress and improve their strength and health. Politicians and educators should legislate for a compulsory Physical Education program at school levels. Physical education enhances skills that are needed for self- confidence and social functioning. It also teaches valuable information on how to maintain physical fitness and provides basic knowledge on how to reduce unhealthy lifestyle habits (Biddle, 1997). Physical fitness will help to kick-out minor symptoms such as constipation, stress, headaches, and indigestion. Physical Education should be a requirement for all school curriculums since it help in providing physical skills which are essential for educational value, efficient social functioning and good healthy practice which reduce health risks. Healthy persons are more fruitful at work, are less expected to be absent at work and are usually more pleased with their livelihood activities. By incorporating a healthy lifestyle at early ages, it will increase the possibility of it continuing into the later on years
Modern luxuries, such as computers, television and cars encourage young people and children to sit down for couple of hours, and this is taking a harm toll on our society. Millions of people are suffering from deadly diseases that could be controlled through regular exercise. In spite of all of the incredible medical breakthroughs established by contemporary scientists, there is no such a thing like exercise in a tablet. Nothing at all can substitute physical activity. When this fact is generally accepted and physical education becomes an embedded part of the learning practice, all people of society, including the young generation, will benefit.
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