Physical Activity and Physical Education

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physical activity

Physical Activity is an important part of any healthy lifestyle. Physical education is a strategy that works to promote lifelong physical activity through the teaching of skills, concepts, attitudes and values. Children who are physically active do better on tests, have higher self-esteem, have better coordination and have fewer injuries than their inactive peers. Physical education helps develop a child’s gross motor skills , and hand-eye coordination. 

The benefits of physical education are not limited to children. Physical education is beneficial for adults in a physical therapy setting. The reasoning behind this is because the exercise improves cardiovascular function and muscle strength, which results in less atrophy and muscle loss with age. 

Why is there a growing concern over the physical fitness of children and adole

scents? There are a number of health and societal issues that currently affect children and adolescents which may increase the risk for developing obesity. This issue is further complicated by the fact that physical activity is not always a component of school physical education. 

As such, there is a lack of knowledge about what children need to develop physical fitness and how schools can increase participation in organized extracurricular activities. The lack of knowledge about health and societal issues has also been associated with a decrease in the amount of time that children spend being physically active. 

Physical Education has been shown to reduce obesity , test scores , adolescent pregnancy rates and violence rates . Studies have found that the more time children spend on physical education the less they consume high-fat or high-sugar snacks and drinks.  Many schools do not provide enough opportunities for physical activity within school settings. 

A group called “Students Active in Sports” (SAS) was created to help increase students’ participation in school athletic programs. SAS also aims to create opportunities for physical activity throughout the school day. Other similar organizations include “Active for Life” and “Coaches Across America”.

The goals of physical education are to teach individuals to:

1. Learn about physical activity concepts, skills, and strategies – 

Physical education develops physical fitness through two main types of activities: large muscle group exercises (aerobic) to improve endurance, strength, flexibility, movement skills; and small muscle group exercises to improve balance, agility, speed and power (anaerobic). The purpose of the exercises is to develop and maintain a healthy body.

2. Demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary for lifelong participation in physical activity – 

Physical education includes activities that involve both body movement and mind/reasoning skills. These activities stimulate the five senses, as well as imagination, creativity, and self-expression. They are also designed to help students develop a positive attitude toward physical activity by promoting motivation toward lifelong physical activity participation.

3. Develop as healthy, productive, and responsible members of society – 

Physical education is a component of every school. The physical education curriculum should include: skills, concepts and fundamental movements; cognitive activities; physical fitness development; positive attitudes toward physical activity; self-management and self-regulatory skills; community awareness, appreciation, and involvement; exercise behaviors leading to health promotion throughout life. The ultimate goal is that students enjoy physical activity and remain active throughout their lives.

There are many skills that are taught through the curriculum of physical education, but they fall under the following:

1. Lower Extremity Skills

These skills promote the ability to move around freely, and use the lower extremities efficiently and safely. This includes gross motor skills such as running, skipping and jumping. These types of movements require significant muscle strength but are not intense enough to put too much stress on the body; one example is a baby learning to crawl. 

Activities also include balancing and body control for activities like gymnastics or playing baseball or basketball. This category also includes skill development for athletes such as goal setting and sportsmanship, which helps with overall team performance.

2. Upper Extremity Skills

Physical education addresses this skill set in a variety of ways. Activities range from weight lifting to baseball and basketball to archery. Strength is also developed through pushing, pulling, and rotation activities that help teach balance, coordination, speed and power.

3. Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance 

Cardiovascular refers to heart activity and respiratory refers to breathing activity. In physical education these activities develop the aerobic capacity of the body and allow you to do sustained exercise for a long time period without becoming fatigued or tired.  The category includes running, swimming, biking, in-line skating and ice skating activities.

4. Body Composition

The body composition skill set focuses on how the body looks and feels. This skill set addresses the ability to be healthy, fit and strong while taking in a limited amount of food, engaging in regular physical activity, developing healthy eating habits and learning to love one’s body type. Health-related conditions such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia can severely affect your body composition.

5. Mind/Reasoning Skills 

This skill set addresses the individual’s ability to learn about fitness through various activities that incorporate life skills such as cooperation, negotiation and fair play. These skills are useful in everyday life, allowing people to become less of a victim to peer pressure and learn how to make good decisions and deal with challenges.

6. Life Skills

This skill set addresses the ability to have knowledge about the world around you including the skills of respect, honesty, cooperation, balance, tolerance and fairness. Knowing these skills can help people become more outgoing and learn how to deal with others in a positive manner. It also contributes to learning how to achieve success in one’s community and dealing with other people’s opinions and opinions on fitness issues such as health-related matters or body image issues related to fitness.

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