Physical education is a process geared towards physical development and body changes through exercise instructions which one applies to achieve a healthy life style. These exercises range from sports, games, dance, aerobics and other gymnastic programs. Both quality and quantity physical education programs are important in schools in formation of an all rounded student as a means to realize life time health. Schools should incorporate effective physical education programs for all learners on a daily basis to ensure fitness in the students. Young children require creative exercises to avoid boredom and the trainers should involve the children in coming up with the programs to ensure that their ideas are incorporated in the regimen. This will make the physical exercises fun to carry out. Apart from participating in the physical education programs, the students need to be taught on the importance of the various exercises so they inculcate the culture of physical fitness into their life-time fitness programs. Most health experts recommend an average of one hour of moderate to strenuous exercises for school going children (Marion, 2009).
Despite the numerous benefits associated with constant exercises both in school going children and adults, some individuals are opposed to the physical education programs in schools. Several school administrators have claimed that they are under budgetary stress and would not afford facilities required to offer quality training in physical education. Such schools have allocated funds in other projects completely neglecting physical education. In place of physical education, such schools have instead resulted to food rationing programs with the argument that cases of obesity increase out of excess eating. Another school of thought argues that physical education is unnecessarily consuming the time learners could use for study. Their argument is that the more hours learners invest in studies, the higher their chances of academic success. The No Child Left behind Act (NCLB) has been pointed as one of the reasons; the physical education program has received little attention. The law introduced by President Bush, aimed to improve performance in reading and arithmetic with large portions of federal funds dedicated to realizing improved results in these subjects. The implementation of this law meant that teachers dedicated more time in classwork to ensure they reach the set targets. In turn, time and funds allocated for physical education drastically went down. This has in turn resulted in higher rates of obesity in the country with the government spending billions of dollars to counter obesity-related complications in school going children. Some stake holders in the general child development argue that involving children in physically demanding activities increases their chances of getting injuries and fatigue which may leave them with lifetime weaknesses or totally incapacitated. Others argue that the introduction of children to exercises may deviate their attention from academics and lead to poor performance in studies (Marion, 2009).
The arguments posed by those against physical education programs in schools are not satisfactory. According to research carried out by Active Living Research group, on how policies and environmental factors affect the performance of learners in schools, the less the time allocated for physical education, the lower the academic performance recorded. All schools under the study which had comprehensive exercise and physical training programs had a better performance in academics even with less instruction time in class work. The excuse of inadequate facilities for exercise programs in some schools may not entirely mean that the learners can not achieve physical fitness as there is a wide range of exercise models learners can use that do not require expensive facilities. For instance, learners can involve in activities such as aerobics, running and playing. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) needs to be reviewed to ensure learners have adequate time for exercise as opposed to long hours in classwork. The NCLB completely failed to capture the importance of exercise in the general development of school going children. The setting of targets for schools to achieve or risk going on probation only meant teachers would be forced to do more tutorials to achieve the grades required at the expense of the physical well being of the children. The failure of NCLB program has been attributed to among other factors, academic fatigue and decreased physical fitness in children which always improves concentration capacity. Controlled exercise programs by adults or trained instructors ensures the school going children carry out their exercises in well protected environments and only according to outlined guidelines and thus the argument of injury incidences by the opponents of physical education is vague since injuries can occur in any situation and are not limited to exercises only. As numerous studies have shown a link between good academic performance and exercising, to argue that physical education will lead to poor results is to miss the point. Furthermore, many talents in children such as footballing skills and athletics prowess are discovered through these programs (Stewart, &Mars, 2010).
My understanding of the physical education is that it is an important aspect of a child’s comprehensive growth process. The incorporation of the program into the school curriculum will impact positively on the school children and help them to adopt the activities taught as an integral part of their endeavor to lead a healthy lifestyle. With the emergence of new modern forms of entertainment such as computer games, play stations and internet based games, many children have neglected the physically demanding entertainment programs. This has increased the number of those with cases of child obesity to epidemic levels in America and other European states. It would be advisable to incorporate a culture of involvement in physical exercises in young school going children to avert such disasters as chronic, cardiovascular diseases and disabilities. I believe that regular physical activities will always result in healthier life with lowered risk of preventable conditions such as high blood pressure, cancers and diabetes. As schools aim to achieve high academic success, they should also focus on improving the welfare of the learners by encouraging healthy lifestyles which is achievable through physical activities and healthy diets. Aside from the improved academic performance, physical education contributes in developing responsible citizens. Many studies have indicated a drop in cases of indiscipline in children involved in physical fitness programs in comparison to those who do not. Drug abuse is also rampant among idle students as compared to those who take part in exercise programs. The benefits accrued from physical activity go beyond academic performance and positive results have been recorded in psychosocial component of life too. Physically fit learners have low incidences of depression, anxiety and also show improved socialization ability in comparison to their peers (Carlie, 2011).
I differ with the opponents of physical education programs in schools as the benefits associated with physical activities surpass the disadvantages. From improved health to fitness to improved academic performance and the improved socialization powers, the advantages of physical education are limitless. It is the prerogative of the parents and guardians to ensure that the children involve in responsible physical activities and remove the fear of injuries or time wasting from the element of physical education. It is wrong to presume that for effective physical fitness, one has to own state of the art facilities as there are many forms of physical exercises. To also assume that for better academic performance, a learner requires long study hours is wrong and as the old adage goes “All work without play makes Jack a dull boy” (University of Michigan Health System ,2011).
The importance of physical education can not be underestimated. There is a need to ensure both quality and quantity physical education in school programs. The government should also formulate policies and legislation geared towards promotion of physical fitness. Guidelines given by expatriate bodies should be followed since their advice is based on reliable studies. For instance, the American Heart Association and the National Association of State Boards of Education recommend not less than two hours of physical education each week. The government ought to offer training techniques to instructors and post them to all schools. In addition it should avail any necessary facilities to ensure successful physical training programs. Owing to the reluctance displayed by both school administrations and the learners themselves in matters physical education, the government could make it compulsory and examinable. This would definitely put physical education at the center of curriculum.
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