In society’s struggle against the growing obesity epidemic and the rising number of health related illnesses, it is becoming increasingly important to ensure children are being taught the significance of participating in regular physical activity and to also attain an understanding of the different aspects of physical education. Physical education can be defined as the understanding, development and teaching of the sociological, physiological and psychological aspect within sport and physical activity. Physical education helps students develop social skills and understanding which will ultimately enable the student to become a positive member of society. Physical education also allows students to develop their own skills and knowledge of sports and physical activities, which in turn will help promote a healthy, active lifestyle and potentially provide future career opportunities. Physical education has the potential to make significant contributions to the education and development of children and young people in many ways.
Physical Education is the main institution for the development of physical skills in children and young people. Educational theorist Telama, has highlighted the idea that schools are the main environment for many children to be physically active, whether it is through physical education programs or after-school activities (Telama et al, 1997).
The physiological benefits of Physical Education are well established. Regular participation in physical activities can help lead to a longer and better quality of life, reduced risk from a number of health related diseases and many psychological or emotional problems. Regular physical exercise can reduce the risk of hear disease, type two diabetes and high blood pressure while also helps in the prevention of weight gain and depression or anxiety (Wuest & Fisette, 2012). Basic movement skills that are developed through Physical Education programs are the foundations of almost all sporting and physical activities. Booth suggests that ‘there is evidence that those who have developed a strong foundation in fundamental movement skills are more likely to be active, both during childhood and later in life’ (Okely et al, 2001). Motorlogical benefits can also be seen through Physical Education in the form of developing important movement skills, which are needed throughout day-to-day life. Such movement skills include: flexibility, agility, strength, speed and hand-eye coordination. Through a relevant and efficient Physical Education program, students have the potential to develop skills and technique, which may provide possible career pathways later in life.
The sociological benefits of Physical Education provide students with the tools to become an active and influential member of society. Physical education theorist, Svoboda states that ‘numerous studies have demonstrated that appropriately structured and presented activities can make a contribution to the development of pro-social behavior’ (Shephard, 1997). Students who participate in physical education have the opportunity to develop important social skills while working in a collaborative environment; this is the fundamental for building and maintaining friendships and relationships through life. Evidence suggests the Physical Education has the potential to bring individuals from a variety of social and economic backgrounds together in a shared interest. This ultimately offers a sense of belonging to a team of club, provides the opportunity to develop values and competencies, and helps develop social networks (Bailey, 2005). Academic benefits and positive behavioral improvements can also be attributed to Physical Education. A study in France during the early 1950’s found that children who participated in regular physical activity showed fewer disciplinary problems and had greater capacity for concentration. In more recent studies, evidence indicates that again these students showed positive behavioral improvements are now also showing improvements in academic performance (Shephard, 1997)
In addition to the physiological and sociological benefits of Physical Education, students can also psychologically benefits from regular physical activity. Wuest and Fisette suggest that ‘participation in exercise promotes positive thought and feelings. These serve to counteract negative thoughts and feelings as well as mood states associated with depression and anxiety’ (Wuest & Fisette, 2012). Psychological benefits of participating in physical activity include: a reduced state of anxiety, improved mood and emotions, alleviating symptoms associated with mild depression and an improvement towards social interactions and relationships. A positive relationship between exercise and psychological states is clearly evident, with various research showing different explanations on how this relationship occurs.
Physical Education is an imperative foundation in the development of all students. Physical Education provides the social and physiological constructs on how to not only become an active, connected member of society, but how to also lead a healthy and active life while reducing the risk of serious illnesses. Furthermore, in reducing the likelihood of developing mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Physical Education also carries significant psychological benefits. Physical Education has the potential to make substantial contributions to the education, development and wellbeing of all students. In each area discussed; physiological, sociological and psychological, there is evidence that proves Physical Education can have a positive and profound effect.