Physical Fitness Fundamentals

Physical education is motion with a purpose. Motion begins before birth and continues throughout a person's lifetime. Motion is a learned skill. It is a skill essential for all areas of development.

As a home schooling mom for more than 10 years, I quickly noticed that P.E. is often overlooked in the rush to get everything done. After a day of home schooling, caring for several children, and running a household, moms are usually tired. Thus, the tendency is to skip over Physical Education and simply tell the kids to "Go play."

While it's understandable to think that kids get enough activity while they "play"; there remains a big difference between physical activity and physical development. Physical development is working toward a lifetime of fitness. This would include muscle strength, flexibility, endurance, and cardiovascular health.

There is an old saying that states, "A healthy body, leads to a healthy mind." For a child to remain sedate is unnatural. Americans in general need to be aware of falling into the "couch potato" syndrome. And, since children tend to follow the habits of their parents, it is essential for parents to understand how crucial a child's physical development is.

Does P.E. have to be a competitive sport? No. However, one of the beauties of physical fitness training is that it does create an element of discipline and self-control. Perseverance and faithfulness are needed to reap the rewards of a healthy body.

Just as important as any academic subject, P.E. is fundamental and should not be overlooked. Blood needs to circulate throughout the body (especially the brain) to keep youngsters alert and motivated. Benefits from being fit are found both physically and academically.

Physically, a normal body weight will be maintained as well as a lower risk of hypertension, heart attack, stroke, diabetes and ulcers.

Intellectually, there is a relationship between fitness and academic performance. "First Lessons: A Report on Elementary Education in America," by the U.S. Department of Education, 1986 states: "Physical education programs belong in elementary schools, not only because they promote health and well-being, but because they contribute tangibly to academic achievement. Researchers in France, Australia, Israel and the United States have found that youngsters who partake of vigorous exercise possess greater mental acuity and stronger interest in learning than those who do not."

What do you think? Can you afford to neglect this area of your child's development?