“Intelligence and skill can only function at the peak of their capacity when the body is healthy and strong”
– John F Kennedy
History and Overview
Education in India dates back to around 5000BC where the Gurukul system was prevalent. Under the Gurukul system of education, a holistic approach was adopted.
The shishyas or the pupils would reside at the residence of the Guru or the teacher and gain knowledge on a day-to-day basis. This knowledge not only covered subjects of science and arts but also of the physical wellbeing of the body.
This included yoga, meditation, sports and other physical activities. Therefore, we can say that the concept of Physical education has been in practice since ancient times. This very fact reiterates the importance of physical education in schools.
What Do You Mean by Physical Education?
Physical education is the training given for the development of the body. It may include simple exercises to vigorous sports. It also provides coaching and training in personal hygiene and outdoor games.
Today physical education is as important as it was in the ancient world. In fact, now the importance of Physical Education has escalated. This is because of the changes in lifestyle and the medical need for it.
Physical education is introduced to young students right from the formative school years. The importance of physical education and sports in schools cannot be undermined.
Right from young adolescence to adult, physical education plays a significant role.
Here Are 16 Reasons Why Physical Education Is Very Important:
1. Contributes in Teaching Responsibility
You may not be aware, but physical education and sports in schools teach students responsibility. It teaches the students to become responsible adults who lead a healthy lifestyle.
Being responsible for one’s own health is very important. This sense of responsibility should be imbibed in students right from a very young age.
Apart from responsibility, physical education teaches self-discipline. Discipline practiced on the field contributes to self-discipline in life.
2. Boosts Academic Performance
Another reason why should physical education be mandatory in schools is that it boosts academic performance. A research paper published by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information suggests evidence that
- Increasing physical activity and physical fitness may improve academic performance and that time in the school day dedicated to recess, physical education class, and physical activity in the classroom may also facilitate academic performance.
- Available evidence suggests that mathematics and reading are the academic topics that are most influenced by physical activity. These topics depend on efficient and effective executive function, which has been linked to physical activity and physical fitness.
- Executive function and brain health underlie academic performance. Basic cognitive functions related to attention and memory facilitate learning, and these functions are enhanced by physical activity and higher aerobic fitness.
- Single sessions and long-term participation in physical activity improve cognitive performance and brain health. Children who participate in vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity benefit the most.
3. Develops Character
The importance of physical education for students cannot be undermined. It provides holistic development for the students.
It allows students to grow and develop personalities. One of the benefits of physical education to students is that it develops character.
An NCERT publication on Physical education has stated the importance of physical education and yoga for the physical, mental, social, and emotional development of a child.
The same article goes on to state that physical education through the medium of physical activities helps individuals to attain and maintain physical fitness.
It contributes to physical efficiency, mental alertness, and the development of qualities like perseverance, team spirit, leadership, and obedience to rules.
It develops personal and social skills among the learners and makes a positive impact on their physical, social, emotional, and mental development.
It also contributes to the total health of learners and the community. Physical education thus can be defined as a subject that is not only focused on physical fitness but is also concerned with the development of a number of skills, abilities, and attitudes for leading a healthy lifestyle.
It inculcates values like cooperation, respect for others, loyalty, self-confidence, winning with grace, and losing with hope.
All these traits build the character of a student.
4. Improves Teamwork Skills
One of the reasons why physical education is important in schools is because physical education improves teamwork skills.
On any field activity or sporting event held in school, the atmosphere created is more fun with a festive spirit.
This gives the student a less sense of competition which would have otherwise been followed in an academic classroom. Students learn to work and win in teams better on a field than in a classroom activity.
5. Reduces Child Obesity
Child obesity has become a rampant issue. One of the main reasons for child obesity is the change in lifestyle of the youth today.
Children are more exposed to unhealthy snacky foods nowadays. Also, in earlier days children would walk kilometers to reach school.
However, now with developed roads and transport facilities, walking to school has become redundant. This has given rise to obesity among children. Unhealthy food and lack of physical exercise have led to this problem.
Physical education in schools ensures that children get adequate exercise for the body thereby reducing the risk of child obesity.
6. Social Interaction
The introduction of physical education in school enables children to interact with each other. Children interact freely on the field.
In classrooms, children need to maintain a minimum decorum. Whereas on the field children feel more free-spirited.
7. Encourages Spirit of Sportsmanship
Physical education also teaches young children the spirit of sportsmanship.
It teaches children to be fair, ethical, and respect other competitors. Games and sports played in schools teach children these values.
8. Develops Fine Motor Skills
Another reason for the importance of physical education in schools is that it develops fine motor skills.
Fine motor skills is the ability to make movements in our hands and wrists. This development is very important in young toddlers during the growing years.
9. Teaches Leadership Skills
Sports and games teach children to assume leadership roles and to take charge. Forming teams and groups on the field teach children to be part of a team and work towards a common goal.
Children learn to motivate other team members thus learning the roots of leadership right from the school days.
10. Relieves Stress
The importance of physical education and sports can be seen in the way it helps to relieve stress amongst children.
The pressure of academics can be overwhelming at times. Playing sports or games tends to relieve this stress during school hours.
It is a scientifically proven fact that exercise, sports, and games reduce levels of stress.
Exercising releases endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals produced by the body to relieve stress and pain.
11. Breaks the Drudgery
Usually, schools have long hours of academic courses in a day. These classes are conducted within the four walls of the classroom making it monotonous and dull for students.
A period of physical education in between these long hours of academics can boost children’s energy levels.
12. Positive Attitude in Life
Physical education encourages a positive attitude in life. Nowadays, teenagers are especially concerned about their outward appearances due to the rise in the use of social media apps.
A good physical education boosts their confidence and allows them to look and feel good naturally.
13. Physical Education Improves Sleep Patterns
Sleep is very important for the physical and mental health of an individual. It repairs and heals the heart and blood vessels.
However, off late many people, children and adults alike complain of sleeping disorders. This could be due to several reasons like increased mobile time, change in lifestyle, or any other reason.
Sleeping disorders can lead to the risk of heart diseases, kidney problems, and even diabetes.
Physical education, sports, and other physical activities improve sleep patterns. According to Charlene Gamaldo, M.D. , medical director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital- Based on available studies, “We have solid evidence that exercise does, in fact, help you fall asleep more quickly and improves sleep quality,”
14. Physical Exercise and ADHD
Physical exercises are one of the best ways to increase concentration and reduce symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a mental health disorder that can cause hyperactive behaviour.
Children with ADHD have trouble focusing and concentrating on a task. However, physical activity boosts the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels—all of which affect focus and attention.
A study to assess the effect of a physical activity intervention on the brain and behavioural indices in preadolescent children, conducted by the Paediatrics the Official Journal of the American Academy of paediatrics showed that Physical activity enhanced cognitive performance and brain function.
These findings demonstrate the effect of a physical activity program for improving childhood cognition and brain health.
15. Improves Mental Health
Studies have shown that exercises improve brain functioning. Exercising releases certain chemicals in the body that enhance the functioning of the brain thereby contributing to our mental health.
16. Stepping Stone to A Lucrative Career
Apart from the above advantages of Physical education, it also acts as a stepping stone for lucrative careers in sports.
Today, sports have taken centre stage with many youngsters making a career out of it. Physical education introduced in schools encourages children to take part in sports and find their career calling.
Sports coaches, Physiotherapists, and Physical training teachers are in high demand today.
We have now established the importance of Physical education and sports in schools. For the overall holistic development of children, physical training and exercise is important aspect.
So much so, a number of education boards have made it compulsory for schools to introduce physical education classes. After all physical education is the only subject that makes your heart race.
Your health is worth more than learning. Physical education must be adopted in all schools to ensure holistic development of the child.
Physical education is the only subject that can make your heart race. Physical education and fitness is the fundamental basis of all forms of excellence. A great nation is built on the foundation of health for all.