Physical Education. What is it? Why do we have to do it? The constant questioning of the ever-debated comment: ‘well, it’s only PE’. The fact of the matter is, Physical Education, in its many forms, is absolutely crucial to your development and growth as a person. PE has the power to combat current and future health problems, not just for the body, but also for the mind; yet it is still massively underappreciated! Think of PE as a ‘preventative medicine’ for yourself and future generations. From building confidence, to reducing levels of stress, to enhancing your cardiovascular fitness, PE truly is the gateway to fulfilling all-round healthy, active lifestyles.
Guidelines? What Guidelines?
I think we are fairly understanding of the vast impact PE can have on our physical health and wellbeing. You only have to step foot into a PE lesson to hear the ever-echoed concepts of components of fitness and improving fitness levels, but the implications to physical health are far more extensive. For children and young people, the recommended guidelines for physical activity are to aim for an average of at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity activity a day. The average secondary school student takes part in 2 hours of PE a week, just a fraction of the daily recommended guidelines. How many of you would be able to confidently say that you fulfil these weekly recommendations? These guidelines are in place because inactivity is described by the Department of Health as a ‘silent killer’ and there is mounting evidence to show that sedentary behaviour, such as sitting or lying down for long periods of time, is bad for your health. Your risk of certain cancers: increased; your risk of cardiovascular disease: increased; your risk of diabetes: increased. Unfortunately, the list is really quite overwhelming.
With the rise of inactivity across the country, PE is evermore essential for educating you on the importance of physical activity and how to lead healthy, active lifestyles. As Dr. Nick Cavil, a Health Promotion Consultant has recently stated: “if exercise was a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented”. This is what we, as your PE teachers are providing you with, something so good for health that it would be absurd to ignore. We want to offer our students the understanding of how to be life-long physical activity participants and this is essentially the foundation on which we base our PE curriculum.
PE - so much more than the physical!
So, does being healthy only fall into the physical category? No, of course not! The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as: “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. With the ever-present stigma around mental health, there has never been a better time to recognise the positive effects that PE can have on our mental wellbeing, owing to all-round good health. Mental health problems do not discriminate and they can affect anyone.
You only have to do a quick Google search to find the extensive research highlighting the positive relationship between physical activity and improved mental health. But, how can that be? How can something that requires me to physically exert my body improve my mental state? Put simply, exercise increases levels of dopamine and serotonin (feel good chemicals) in the brain which ultimately alter your mood and make you think in a much more positive way.
Yes, PE Can Help Your Performance In Other Subjects
PE has an overwhelming ability to support and help improve mental wellbeing of students, not only now, but as they embark on their future endeavours. PE has been shown to reduce levels of stress, increase confidence, reduce anxiety and depression and increase energy levels, to name but a few. Interestingly, the notion that ‘active kids learn better’ has been at the forefront of the justification for the importance of PE within schools. It has been shown that physical activity has the ability to improve academic performance of young people as a result of them having ‘more active brains’. Again, highlighting further just how much of a win-win physical activity in school is, for both students and teachers.
There’s More To Being Social Than Sending Snaps On Snapchat
Let’s rewind back to that definition from the WHO. We’ve covered the physical and the mental aspects of health, both of which we have been able to pinpoint just how PE can be beneficial. So, with only the social left to discuss, are you beginning to see that there is much more to PE than just kicking a football around a pitch or hitting a shuttlecock around a badminton court? When taking part in PE lessons, you’re automatically exposed to situations where your leadership, team-work, and your empathy for others are used and enhanced regularly. Through sport you build bonds and connections with others that are so different from those made in day-to-day life. These social attributes that you improve through: leading warm-ups; working as a team, showing true sportsmanship, will have endless importance as you grow into adulthood and these values will become deep-rooted within your moral code.
Is It Really ‘Only PE’?
Perhaps it is time to take a step back and re-consider the comment of ‘it’s only PE’. I hope this blog has provided you with an insight into the overwhelming arguments that ‘only PE’ is so much more than it is perceived. I think that it is absolutely essential that anyone who holds PE in a negative light, is able to recognise that there is a great deal of evidence to support that this school subject is so much more important than people portray it to be. I truly believe that PE should be held in much higher esteem in the future of education.