The essence of physical education in schools

PE develops motor skills and is a development of reflexes. Net photo.

Physical Education‭ (‬PE‭) ‬is known to be an important activity in schools‭. ‬PE is the instruction of physical exercise and games‭. ‬It‭ ‬is the most powerful‭ (‬and overlooked‭) ‬‘medicine’‭ ‬for present and future health issues‭, ‬for the body‭, ‬mind and spirit‭. ‬

World Health Organization‭ (‬WHO‭) ‬defines physical activity as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure‭ ‬‮—‬‭ ‬including activities undertaken while working‭, ‬playing‭, ‬carrying out household chores‭, ‬travelling‭, ‬and engaging‭ ‬in recreational pursuits‭.‬

Michael Maniraguha‭, ‬a lecturer at University of Rwanda‭, ‬Huye Campus says‭, ‬PE develops motor skills and is a development of reflexes‭. ‬It also improves good body movements‭, ‬which helps in the development of a healthy body posture‭.‬

PE helps students to be healthy mentally and physically‭. ‬When a student is healthy‭, ‬it allows their capacity to understand and interpret what they are learning‭. ‬PE can also play a big role in stress management as students are always overloaded with revision‭, ‬homework‭, ‬family and peer pressure‭, ‬which they need to off load‭, ‬he notes‭.‬

Maniraguha adds that PE can also help students‭, ‬especially those who are overweight to balance their weight‭, ‬it can even help one to discover what they are able to do in sports‭. ‬

Barbra Kantengwa‭, ‬a teacher at APAPEC-Irebero School‭, ‬Gisozi‭, ‬explains that PE offers learners an opportunity to learn how to be‭ ‬effective in competitiveness‭, ‬creativity and challenging situations‭.‬

She notes that PE classes expose learners to the importance of a healthy lifestyle‭. ‬The students can also retain a higher level‭ ‬of knowledge as a result of the overall health‭. ‬This knowledge can help them make wise decisions regarding their safety‭, ‬health‭,‬‭ ‬and well-being‭.‬

Experts in physical health say‭, ‬regular physical activity can help to improve the absorption of nutrients in the body‭. ‬It also helps to advance cardiovascular health and develop muscular strength‭. ‬The heart plays an important role in pumping blood to the entire body‭. ‬When students remain inactive throughout the day‭, ‬they can be at a risk of various cardiovascular issues‭. ‬All students need is ample playtime and running around the field‭.‬

“Students usually learn when they obverse what their teachers do‭. ‬When they are guided on which sports to do‭, ‬it helps them learn‭ ‬and it even becomes better if PE is done regularly‭. ‬The essence of PE is that it introduces students to a wide range of exercises‭, ‬which is how they learn about the different physical activities that they can easily enjoy‭,‬”‭ ‬Kantengwa states‭.‬

Maniraguha says that PE builds students’‭ ‬self-confidence as it provides a positive influence on a student’s personality‭, ‬character and self-regard‭. ‬In addition‭, ‬the team-building process boosts communication skills‭, ‬and the ability required to get along and unite with students of different backgrounds and personalities‭. ‬Students get the opportunity to work as‭ ‬a team‭, ‬question actions by their peers and accept responsibilities for their own actions‭.‬

Kantengwa says‭, ‬PE also increases attentiveness of students in class‭, ‬breeds better grades‭, ‬and improves behaviour‭. ‬However‭, ‬she‭ ‬calls upon physical educators to help learners make the right choice of physical activities‭.‬

She notes‭, ‬some of the ways educators can promote physical education‭, ‬inside and outside the classroom‭, ‬is through integrating classroom-based physical activities‭, ‬heartening physical activities during recess‭, ‬providing physical education taught by a qualified PE teacher to all students‭, ‬investing in physical fitness equipment‭, ‬stimulating interscholastic sports‭, ‬and working with communities to provide after-school physical activity programmes for children and teens‭.‬

WHO notes‭, ‬insufficient physical activity is one of the leading risk factors for death worldwide‭. ‬Insufficient physical activity‭ ‬is a key risk factor for non-communicable diseases‭ (‬NCDs‭) ‬such as‭; ‬cardiovascular diseases‭, ‬cancer and diabetes‭.‬

More than 80‭ ‬per cent of the world’s adolescent population is insufficiently physically active‭. ‬Policies to address insufficient physical activity are operational‭ ‬in 56‭ ‬per cent of WHO Member States‭. ‬WHO member states have agreed to reduce insufficient physical activity by 10‭ ‬per cent‭, ‬by 2025‭.‬

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