Physical education offers skills for the future but not enough exercise

By June Peers

For many students, physical education is the most dreaded class in our school curriculum.  Throughout the majority of the day, students are seated in a classroom having to focus on their academics.  Therefore, it can be difficult to suddenly adjust to an outdoor setting after being inundated with school work.

According to the CDC, physical education (P.E.) “provides cognitive content and instruction designed to develop motor skills, knowledge, and behaviors for physical activity and physical fitness.”  These skills will lead to students being confident in physical activity throughout their lifetimes.

The act of simply moving your body in an outdoor environment can be beneficial to a student’s health.  Pediatricians recommend that children should have at least one hour of physical activity per day.  When students are dismissed from school, many who are not engaged in sports immediately go home.  Under these circumstances, one hour of physical education can be a student’s only access to the outdoor world.

In 2018, obesity was prevalent among 42% of American adults, according to the CDC.

In the years to come, our country is likely to see a surge in these numbers as Americans continue to ignore the importance of nutrition and exercise.  Physical education promotes routine exercise and the maintenance of health to children, habits which they can implement into a daily routine that can follow them beyond adolescence.

Although physical education is not the solution to tackling the widespread obesity issue, it can motivate children to lead a healthier lifestyle.  The workouts themselves may not impact a student’s fitness, but the morals that are taught can certainly remind students of valuable life lessons, which can contribute to someone’s fitness journey.  This includes the concept that enduring challenging obstacles can only make you stronger.

Physical education also presents the idea that school is not only academic-based, giving students who are academically challenged an opportunity to succeed in other aspects of their education.  

Many life skills are taught such as participation, determination, perseverance, and discipline.  The aforementioned traits are essential to both your career and adulthood, preparing students for success in their futures.  

Despite the various benefits of physical education in high school, the class consists more of the preparation to exercise, and not enough on the exercise itself.  The time students spend dressing and undressing in a locker room delays the time that could be used exercising.  This makes dressing for gym class seem counterproductive as the amount of time you spend exercising is limited.  

With dressing and undressing, waiting for the teacher, stretching, and then most of the period containing free play, the intensity and length of the workouts alone are minimal.  Although teachers are limited by the bell schedules and the sheer size of their classes, exercise is clearly not prioritized enough in the class when it should be the most focused subject of P.E.  

Rather than a class, physical education can often be treated like a boot camp instead.  Learning with guided tutorials is vital in order for students to grow mentally within school.  By merely showing the movements, you gain little to no knowledge of how to effectively do the exercise. 

Admittedly, physical education is flawed in many ways, but the message it sends to students helps them thrive in both the class and in their potential field of work.