With budget cuts limiting the amount of funding that the government can provide to schools, the “extracurricular” activities such as music and sports are among the first to be removed from the system. Schools dare not remove any math or science programs, but they might take out other costs instead. However, physical education classes should not be one of the sacrifices schools make because of the physical, social, and emotional benefits it provides to students.
The physical benefits of allowing children to spend time exercising multiple times a week are obvious. Childhood obesity is at a frighteningly high rate. These children simply need a chance to exercise, since many of them don’t have the means at home to do so and they spend a large amount of their time at school. The cardiovascular and muscular training that playing sports and training in a physical education class provides has a significant effect on the lives of children, making them healthier in general than children who do not get sufficient exercise on a regular basis. Physical education classes also teach students how to properly stretch their muscles before and after exercise, hydrate, and the proper duration to exercise.
Allowing children to exercise with their friends and participate in sports alongside their classmates encourages their desire to exercise outside of school hours. When children realize that they and a few other friends enjoy one of the activities in their physical education classes, they are more motivated to join a sports club or team.
Finally, physical education classes have a positive emotional impact on children. They are taught sportsmanship and teamwork, which are valuable assets to their futures. Sports improve a child’s self-confidence and teach them how to use their energy in constructive ways. Because of these benefits, children are more likely to succeed in school, studies show. They score better grades, take fewer sick days off of school, and receive fewer disciplinary punishments such as expulsions and suspensions. Destructive habits and cases of students acting out are dramatically reduced. One school that combined better nutrition with stronger physical education classes even was able to remove the police officer that had to monitor the school daily. This benefits the students and the school in the long run.
Allowing budget cuts to keep children from receiving a physical education class in schools does not save schools money. It is better to keep student performance high and students healthy than to keep them away from getting the exercise they need and developing habits for a lifetime.