Most people remember taking physical education class when they were in school, and probably wondering why it was a mandatory requirement for graduation. There are numerous benefits to encouraging children to lead a more active lifestyle and ensuring that they engage in adequate physical activity every day. According to Oxford University, encouraging children to engage in physical activity while in school helps to promote healthy habits for their entire lives.
Some of the more immediate and obvious benefits of physical education include:
- Strengthening of the bones
- Improved flexibility
- Improved cardiovascular functions
- Improved coordination
- Stress relief
There is currently some debate in various school districts around the country as to whether or not physical education helps students meet all of their activity needs, and whether or not a traditional recess should be replaced or eliminated.
For example, a Maryland based charter school recently received approval from a local school board to eliminate recess from its curriculum. School officials and experts assert that students receive adequate physical activity during their physical education instruction and that recess has become superfluous.
The elimination of recess has earned its supporters, primarily those who prefer to dedicate the time used for recess to more academic pursuits. There are, nevertheless, those who would prefer students engage in not only structured physical activity, such as that which occurs during physical education class, but also in less structured physical activity which occurs during recess.
Additionally, supporters of recess assert that students use it as a time to socialize and build valuable social skills.
While the future of recess across the country is in doubt, there is little doubt that students require ample physical activity in order to stay healthy and be prepared to meet the demands of increasingly difficult school curricula. As such, P.E. may become all the more important if recess continues to be phased out.