Physical activity is essential to the health and development of a child. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the rate of childhood obesity has tripled over the past 30 years. Childhood obesity can lead to a variety of health problems, both immediate and long-term. Not only are obese children and adolescents currently at greater risk for maladies such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, pre-diabetes and bone and joint problems, as adults they are also more likely to develop serious illnesses such as heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer. Research also shows that obesity can have a negative impact on one's self-esteem. As an institution where kids spend eight hours of their day, schools have an inherent responsibility to provide an environment conducive to both mental and physical productivity. Through sports and physical education, children and adolescents can learn to have a healthier lifestyle, prevent health problems and build their confidence.
It is no secret that physical activity is necessary to a person's well-being. Because children are continuously developing physically and emotionally, they are especially affected by the benefits of activity – and inversely, the negative effects of inactivity. Educators can control the amount of exercise a child gets at home no more than they can control his eating habits or his family situation, and according to numerous studies, many children are neither active at home nor at school. Consequently, it is vital that schools provide physical education programs to ensure that each child stays active.
Physical Health- Physical education programs in schools directly benefit students' physical health. Getting the recommended amount of exercise combats obesity, which subsequently reduces the risk for diabetes, heart disease, asthma, sleep disorders and other illnesses. Regular exercise also contributes to cardiovascular health and promotes muscle and bone development. According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, school PE programs should require both fitness and cognitive assessments. In addition to participating in physical activity, students in PE learn the fundamentals of a healthful lifestyle, the building blocks upon which they can develop into healthy, knowledgeable adults.
Academic Performance- Though a lack of attention on PE is often justified as an opportunity to spend more time in the classroom, studies show that physical activity contributes to improved academic performance. Regular activity during the school day is strongly associated with higher concentration levels as well as more directed, composed behavior. A statewide policy in North Carolina required that children from kindergarten to eighth grade participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day. A survey of school representatives from 106 of the state's school districts reported that the most recognizable benefit of the mandate was “improved academic focus.”
Social Assimilation- Activities in PE help children develop healthful social interactions. From a young age, children learn cooperation through group activities and form a positive sense of identity as part of a team. Such group activities are continually important as children grow older. The International Platform on Sport and Development states that “sport has been used as a practical tool to engage young people in their communities through volunteering, resulting in higher levels of leadership, community engagement and altruism among young people.” Sportanddev.org also notes that positive character development through group physical activities depends on the program curriculum.
Mental Health- The benefits of PE to a child's mental health are both complex and comprehensive. Improved physical health, academics and social interactions all contribute to good mental health. Physical activity sets the stage for a good night's sleep, while obesity, caused in part by inactivity, is linked to sleep apnea. Sleep deprivation negatively affects the body's immune function, aids in memory consolidation and may cause irritability and impatience. Regular physical activity, in addition to adequate sleep, provide more energy to participate in hobbies and interact with others.
Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) is increasingly aware of the importance of being physically active, especially in light of childhood obesity statistics. Multitudes of research show that being active is essential to the well-being of a person; it is now our responsibility as a society to utilize that information. Sports and physical education are vital factors when it comes to keeping kids healthy. Physical education class is no longer forcing a student to climb a rope to the top of the ceiling; it's about keeping kids active and teaching them the importance of staying active. The activities that one engages in during gym class instill values that the student can carry with them beyond the classroom. Sports, whether part of a school program or not, have continuing benefits that help kids build strength, maintain a healthy body weight, develop social skills and build self-esteem. By being a part of a team and its accomplishments, students can develop a positive sense of self-worth and pride.
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