The Pros and Cons of Physical Education
Most of us remember gym class. For many of us, it was the most hated or the most anticipated class. Those that were a little bit heavier or not as athletically inclined may remember the class as a nightmare, while others may remember it as the most exciting time of the day. Either way, physical education was required. Today, however, the necessity of physical education classes is up for debate. Parents, faculty, council members, and even the government are weighing the pros and cons of allowing physical education in school. I believe that even though the funding being used to pay for equipment and gymnasiums could be better spent on books and materials for other classes, physical education should stay in school because it provides healthy exercise for children and teens. It also gives the less fortunate but deserving children a chance to play and excel in sports. Obesity is a huge concern in America today. We see more children, teens and adults eating unhealthy foods and not receiving enough exercise than any other point in history. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry website, in 2008 between 16% and 33% of children and teens were considered obese . That is approximately one in four children who is over the suggested body fat limit for their age. What causes these children and adolescents to become overweight? Lack of exercise and a healthy diet are the main reasons. “In the 2009 edition of America’s Health Rankings™, it is estimated that obesity will cost the United States about $344 billion in medical-related expenses by 2018, eating up about 21 percent of the nation’s health-care spending. ” (National Association for Sport and Physical Education. 2009) Though school system cannot control what these children do and eat at home but they can control the food they eat at school . The school system can also provide the minimum amount of exercise needed in a child’s life. By insisting that they attend and participate in at least 60 minutes of physical education a day, the school system is ensuring that each child is given a chance to exercise and a chance at a healthier lifestyle. Children, especially when started at a young age, are easy to mold. If they participate in daily physical exercise they are more inclined to establish a lifelong habit of daily exercise that will help to prevent obesity in adulthood and reduce the chance of expensive medical bills due to health issues in the future.
There is, of course, a down side to physical education. Many children, but especially teens have self-esteem issues. If they happen to be a little bit overweight or advancing through puberty more rapidly than others or sometimes, for no reason at all these children feel the need to hide themselves. Unfortunately, a class like physical education is not the best place to hide. No parent wants his or her child to be miserable, which is why some parents are saying that they believe the physical education class should not be mandatory. JoAnne Matthews-Saunders, a creative movement specialist, states that “few individuals, whether or not they have a disability, are willing to try new conce pts, and they are even less likely to try them while surrounded by their peers. The idea of “failing” is not a concept that anyone embraces.” I, as an adult, have a difficult time when it comes to failing or not measuring up to some of my peers, especially when it concerns sports. Teens and children are the same but many, as yet, do not have the skills to accept the fact that they will not always be the best. This leads to feelings of defeat and again, low self esteem . Added to that, there is always peer criticism, which is very hard at any age but imagine a young person entering middle school or high school and being told that they would have to shower and dress with the other students of their gender . That alone could cause anxiety but for those...
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