Physical Education or Physical Exercise? Are Our Children Learning?
When it comes to physical education, as a parent myself, I’m interested in what our children are being taught in school. Staying physically and mentally healthy should be treated as a priority, but in general, it’s not. This article will delve into the depths of where not many dare to go, or simply aren’t. I’m going to provide facts and links to studies as to why physical education is important, what the difference between physical education and physical exercise is, and a potential solution for physical education of our future generations that will save lives.
With our children being our legacy for the future, we should invest in proper education, not later, not just once, but early on, frequently and continuous. There is no better investment for our children’s future.
Physical education back in my days was one session in the gym and one in the swimming pool. After speaking to my son, he told me that he gets two hours a week in the gym. From here on out when I reference school, it will be referencing to my experience, that of my son, and that of at least 3 other people I have spoken to in different locations. Due to first-hand experience, public primary and secondary schooling in Europe or Australia is what I’ll reference.
Following are the definitions for the words ‘physical’ and ‘education’.
Physical = relating to the body as opposed to the mind.
Education = information about or training in a particular subject
Merriam-Webster tells us: instruction in the development and care of the body ranging from simple calisthenic exercises to a course of study providing training in hygiene, gymnastics, and the performance and management of athletic games.
Now that we know exactly what each of those two words means, we can look further as to what is provided in that regards and how much is missing. It would be great if we knew that current provision would come close to the definition.
If we’re looking at this from the angle of optimal future physical education for the body, then the curriculum should at least include education on the following topics:
- injury prevention
- fat loss
- joint pain
- mental health
With the above topics, we should come to a point where they’re instilled and educated at an early age because:
Joint pain is a debilitating symptom which can occur later in life, but can be prevented, alleviated or cured with physical exercise. Imagine the mobility and freedom that’s gained later in life with this knowledge?
Excessive consumption of calories at any stage in life will cause your body’s fat stores to expand, resulting in excess fat or obesity. Physical exercise plays a huge part in maintaining balance.
Exercise makes the skin healthier, cleaner, helps fight pimples and much more. Pimples make kids insecure, young girls and boys put beauty high on the scale of importance. Beauty also plays a part in depression.
One of the causes of depression is leading a sedentary life; physical exercise can help provide prevention, alleviation or cure. Imagine how many senseless deaths can be prevented with this knowledge?
Exercise can ease stress, less stress means better school performance, especially during exams. Here’s an idea, how about increasing gym time around exam time?
Strong muscles improve posture and can prevent back-pain, by strong I’m not talking lifting heavy get big muscles strong, I’m talking the opposite of weak, strong enough to provide the appropriate support.
Exercise improves sleep patterns, improved sleep increases brain activity, clarity and helps prevent depression.
In short, proper physical education saves lives, many lives, the lives of our children and that of future generations.
With technology playing such a huge part in the lives of everyone, and becoming more and more integrated into our lives as we progress, why is there no time devoted to covering the effects of that technology has on our body? Sitting for long hours behind the gaming console; staying up late and playing online strategy games which can’t be paused; making the same repetitive movement with the mouse over and over again, day in, day out; and looking at screens that are placed only 20 centimeters away from our eyes. Why is not more time invested in educating our children about the effects and management?
The Effects of Long-Term Sitting
If we’re talking health of the body, we can’t ignore the effects of long term sitting. I’m going to take my son’s school day as an example; he is 15, lives in Europe, goes to school for 6.5 hours a day with only one short thirty-minute lunch break. He has to sit on a chair for 3 continuous hours, has a break and then another 3 continuous hours, for 5 days a week, this comes to 30 hours, minus 2 hours of “physical education”, this makes for a total of 28 hours continuous sitting behind a desk.
Studies show that long-term sitting is bad for your health, some of the effects, but not limited to, are: psoas problems that can lead to spine problems; nerve problems like sciatica; increased risk of diabetes or heart disease; muscle degeneration; and the list goes on. How can it not be a crime that our kids are still required to sit for long terms without short breaks in-between? Plan your school day with 5 to 10-minute breaks that involve physical education, hip hinges, squats —simple super important primal things like squatting are completely lost these days, how many children can squat properly?— Push-Ups, plank, why is no time invested into this?
With beauty, depression, happiness, fat loss and sleep being some of the most important things in life, especially for young kids, why is there not more focus on these subjects in education? I know that I would gladly have replaced my French and other forced education —but not used once— with proper physical and health education, even if I would not have liked it then, at least we can all agree that it’s something every person needs in life, it’s education that can never go to waste. Some of these things might sound like common sense, but I know that as a fourteen-year old I had no idea that lack of sleep + inactivity + bad posture could all promote depression, imagine how many lives could be saved with this knowledge?
Our current society has become lazy! I know this sounds harsh, but let’s look at the definition of lazy and then ask ourselves if there is truth in this statement. The definition of Lazy: unwilling to work or use energy, characterized by lack of effort or activity, or showing a lack of care. Don’t we want everything taken care of for us? Remote controlled garage door, elevator, escalator, home delivery, TV remote, pre-made dinner, lawn-mower, one pill to fix anything and everything. The opposite of Lazy is Hard-work, hard work means putting in the yards, opening up your garage door with your arms, walking up the stairs with your legs, go out and retrieve your meal, get up to change the TV channel, make your own dinner, mow your lawn by hand, work hard to lose fat, work hard to become and stay healthy. If you’re not doing any or all of those, then there is only one thing left to do, and that is workout hard in the gym. Simply put, if you do none of those, you’re lazy.
Laziness turns into reliance, reliance on doctors to fix you once you get a heart disease, joint pain, cancer and so on. A doctor should never be your security blanket. Doctors are great and needed, but it’s a simple fact that a great majority of medical doctors and conventional medicine still focus on treating symptoms, not cause. Which is like having a splinter in your finger and just receiving a pill for the pain, while treating the cause would be to remove the splinter? Another example would be removing a tumor, but not finding out and/or treating the reason for the tumor appearing.
Physical Education or Physical Exercise?
Are our kids getting physical education or physical exercise in school? I’m of the opinion that in general, they’re getting physical exercise rather than education. Proper education would involve teaching the inner workings of the body, why contracting this muscle moves that limb, teach movement, teach stretching, teach mobility, that’s education. Sure, there is the attention span of children to consider, but this can easily be overcome with a well-balanced educational program that starts out with minimal theory, mostly practical, fun and play education, progressing to a higher rate —but still well balanced— of theory over the years, covering and repeating all subjects mentioned in this article.
When you’re talking about physical education, it should include theory, not just practice. Simple exercise demonstration and getting children to copy is simply not good enough to be considered proper education.
With this, I ask you: are our children getting physical education or physical exercise?