Physical Education is Critical to Overall Education

Physical Education

Physical activity is not just good for keeping kids in shape, it also produces overall psychological and social benefits. When kids get to engage in sports and other vigorous physical activity, its helps improve their overall well-being, including gaining more self-confidence and higher self-esteem. And even research has supported the importance of movement in educating both the mind and body.

The following are findings on why physical education is critical to overall education:

  • Exercise naturally increases the blood flow to the brain.  The blood is what delivers oxygen and glucose, which the brain needs for heightened alertness and mental focus.  This makes it easier for kids to learn.
  • Exercise is also known to build new brain cells in a particular region of the brain that is linked with memory called dentate gyrus.  Researchers also believe that physical activities stimulate nerve growth factors which help kids improve short-term memory, exhibit faster reaction time, and have higher level of creativity.
  • The body’s level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) can be built up through exercise and physical activity.  This neurotrophic factor, found originally in the brain, is active in the hippocampus, cortex, cerebellum, and basal forebrain — areas vital to learning, memory, and higher thinking. It fosters communication among brain cells, which increases the brains capacity to learn and your child’s openness to learning new things.
  • Spatial awareness and mental alertness can all be heightened and improved through activities that involve balance and jumping. Those activities help strengthen the vestibular system, which gives your child a solid basis for reading and other academic skills.
  • It’s no secret that stress puts a strain on our mental functions, even for kids. In order to avoid stress, exercise helps put the brain into homeostasis therefore balancing the body’s chemistry, electrical and organ systems. It can give a similar effect to that of anti-depressants.
  • Studies were done at the University of Illinois which showed a clear relationship between fitness scores and academic achievement amongst children in primary school.
  • Exercise and physical activities, especially organized sports, help kids learn confidence, teamwork and leadership. Statistics prove that roughly 81% of women business executives played team sports as girls.

It’s clear that physical education nurtures traits we want to encourage in our children. Ignoring the obvious benefits of outdoor play and physical activities takes away children’s opportunity to expand their imaginations and increase brain function. Children learn from a variety of modalities and it offers a unique opportunity for intellectual growth.

Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions below.


Image Courtesy: Flickr/Judy baxter