What Is the Role of Physical Fitness in Schools?

M.C. Huguelet
M.C. Huguelet
School-based sports programs can teach children important team skills.
School-based sports programs can teach children important team skills.

Many people regard physical education classes as less important than other facets of a child’s schooling, such as math, English, or science. With unhealthy lifestyles on the rise in countries such as the United States, however, many health experts agree that the role of physical fitness in schools is in fact a significant one. By emphasizing physical fitness in schools, educators not only improve students’ current health, but can also help them to establish the foundations of a lifelong commitment to fitness. Combined with instruction in topics such as nutrition, physical fitness in schools can increase students’ awareness of the role they play in maintaining their own health.

Extracurricular activities and sports keep students active and enhance fitness.
Extracurricular activities and sports keep students active and enhance fitness.

Physical fitness in schools can take a number of different forms. Students in many schools are required to participate in a physical education class on a regular basis. This class often involves playing a range of sports and physical games, such as basketball, kickball, and softball. Other common forms of physical fitness in schools are involvement in extracurricular sports teams and participation in informal physical games like flag football during recess periods.

Many colleges have a fitness center for student use.
Many colleges have a fitness center for student use.

Unfortunately, many students do not realize the potential benefits of physical fitness in schools. Some schools lack the funding needed to provide regular physical education classes. Additionally, physical education classes are commonly offered on an optional basis once students reach the high school level. Consequently, many high school students opt not to enroll in these classes, often because they believe them to be less important than other subjects.

Physical fitness programs in schools can help students get needed exercise.
Physical fitness programs in schools can help students get needed exercise.

With inactive lifestyles on the rise in countries like the US, however, health experts agree that the role of physical fitness in schools should be a highly visible one. Participation in ongoing physical education and school-based physical activities has many immediate benefits. First of all, it can discourage or reverse obesity among students. It can also promote a positive body image and foster students’ ability to work in teams. Additionally, it may encourage at-risk students to stay in school.

Along with these immediate benefits, the promotion of physical fitness in schools can also help students establish a lifelong commitment to health. Students who find they enjoy playing a sport during gym class may be more likely to join an extracurricular team, and to continue playing on sports teams even after their schooling has ended. Those with an established commitment to physical fitness may also be less likely to develop destructive habits, such as tobacco and drug use. Combined with instruction in subjects like nutrition, school-based physical education can increase students’ understanding of the responsibility they hold in maintaining their own health.

Discussion Comments

tigers88

Playing after school sports was probably the most rewarding thing I ever got out of school. I was never one for the books but I played on just about every team that would have me. I almost needed a second letter jacket to hold all the letters I got.

gravois

I think it's great how many high schools encourage fitness programs as part of their physical education classes. I know that when I was in school all we did was run laps and play team sports.

My son lifts weights three times a week as part of his PE class. They have an extensive weight room and he is not only staying fit but learning things about the gym that he will be able to use for the rest of his life.

In this modern life we have to work at staying fit. It's good for my son to realize that he won't have his teenage metabolism forever.

nextcorrea

Physical fitness is an incredibly important part of the school day. It serves a number of important purposes.

First, kids have a lot of energy and they can concentrate much better if they have a chance to burn some of it off. This is not just old mothers advice, studies have proven it.

Next, childhood obesity is an epidemic in this country. There are a number of reasons why, but one of them is the loss of regular PE and recess classes scheduled into the school day. Sometimes kids need to be forced to go out and move around, especially with all the distractions they have these days.

Finally, physical play is an important part of childhood development. It fosters team relationships, helps classmates to bond and creates a healthy environment of competition. Without sounding too grand I think it's just as important as math or reading.

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    • School-based sports programs can teach children important team skills.
      By: My 3 kids
      School-based sports programs can teach children important team skills.
    • Extracurricular activities and sports keep students active and enhance fitness.
      By: ViewApart
      Extracurricular activities and sports keep students active and enhance fitness.
    • Many colleges have a fitness center for student use.
      By: imtmphoto
      Many colleges have a fitness center for student use.
    • Physical fitness programs in schools can help students get needed exercise.
      By: Rido
      Physical fitness programs in schools can help students get needed exercise.