Thursday, March 25, 2010

In Defense of PE

In Defense of PE:

For the past 20 years, I have owned and operated a successful personal training business in the capitol city. I spend every waking minute trying to convince adults of the value in physical activity. A year and a one half ago, I was appointed as a member of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Nutrition, who’s sole goal is to make Iowa the healthiest state in the union. The Council was formed by the passage of the Healthy Kid’s Act, Senate File 2319.

In my capacity as a fitness professional and council member, I cannot remain silent as school budgets are slashed, and administrators look to the arts, music and physical education as viable candidates for elimination. And, whereas, there have been many proponents stand up in defense of the arts and music, few voices have been heard in support of physical education. This needs to be rectified.

With the current healthcare crisis, obesity epidemic and the recent passage of the healthcare bill, we, as a nation, need even more emphasis on physical education and disease prevention. “American society today clearly values health, clearly has increasingly serious health problems, and clearly needs the tremendous positive impact that physical education can have on changing activity habits of children. That emphasis starts with quality daily PE.” This quote was in the Chronicle of Physical Education in Higher Education in 1991, and rings even truer today.

Physical education in the K-12 school system has moved far beyond the dodgeball many of us remember. It fills a vital role in the overall development of our children. The American Heart Association states, “Schools can play a critical role in increasing physical activity by offering quality, daily physical education and other opportunities to recreate. Physical education not only gives children an opportunity to be active but it teaches them the skills they need to be active throughout their lifetime. Thus, investing in quality physical education in all schools for all grades is a logical and important step toward improving the health of the next generation.”

Listed below are some of the benefits that highlight the importance of physical education:

• Maintaining Sound Physical Fitness
• Overall Confidence Booster
• Inculcating Sportsmanship and Team Spirit
• Development of Motor Skills
• Enhancing Overall Cognitive Abilities
• Encouraging Budding Sportsmen.
• Promoting Healthy Lifestyle in Adulthood.

Physical education plays an integral role in the development of our children. It is as important as reading, writing and arithmetic. It is as vital to creating a well-rounded citizen as music or the arts. It helps to create a healthy individual. The World Health Organization has defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”

The AMA recently produced a statement on promoting physical activity among children and adolescents. Listed below are some of the policy and practice recommendations endorsed in this statement:

1. Schools should ensure that all youth participate in a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity during the school day, including active time during physical education (PE) classes.
2. Schools should deliver evidence based health-related PE programs that meet national standards at all school levels. These programs should provide substantial amounts of MVPA (50% of class time) and teach students motor and behavioral skills needed to engage in lifelong physical activity.
3. States and school districts should ensure PE is taught by certified and well-qualified teachers.

Far beyond the dodgeball and jumping jacks many of us remember, PE is essential to developing a healthy well-rounded student that will one day become a healthy, well-rounded adult.

President John F. Kennedy said it best noting the importance of physical activity and physical education when he stated, “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”

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