For adults, the goal of exercise is often to lose a few pounds, but new research from the University of Georgia suggests that the goal should be different for children.
Physical education should focus on improving students’ physical skills, their knowledge of the benefits of exercise, and their motivation to be active.
The goal should be to build students’ cardiorespiratory endurance, a measure of how well the body handles long periods of exercise – not to help them lose weight, according to the study’s authors. Children may be overweight (as measured by body mass index or BMI) and still able to achieve the recommended 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day.
And students who are more active during PE, despite their weight, are also more likely to stay active after school.
Research has shown that even in young children, the fittest people in terms of cardiorespiratory endurance participate in more strenuous physical activity. It’s not really your weight that matters. Children can be a little overweight but still stay relatively fit. “
Sami Yli-Piipari, Senior Study Author and Associate Professor, Mary Frances Early College of Education, University of Georgia
The study followed 450 children, aged 10 to 12, who took 90 minutes of mandatory PE each week. Students wore an accelerometer on their right hip during the day to track their total physical activity for a week, and simple tests – like being able to do a regular or modified pushup or crunch -; were used to determine their mastery of physical skills.
The researchers also looked at whether students enjoyed physical education or participated out of obligation.
“Physical education matters,” said Yli-Piipari. “It’s not just where students develop the skills, abilities and motivation to be active; it’s where students need to do something active at a higher intensity than they probably would. after school.”
The study took place in Finland, where children on average have more PE than American students, and the class also focuses on the importance of exercise and how to integrate it into daily life. Consistent with previous research, boys tend to be more active than girls.
But surprisingly, muscle strength and motor skills didn’t play a role in activity levels. Neither motivation, nor the fact that the child wants to participate in physical education, nor the pleasure of physical education classes.
Students who did not participate in extracurricular sports were also generally less active in their free time. For many of these students, physical education was the only time they exercised hard enough to sweat, making it even more important to use class time effectively in a way that will motivate students to move and to contiue.
To help children learn to read and read physically, Yli-Piipari suggests teaching them in a way that makes them active and active.
- Don’t just lecture and tell the kids to do something. Take them to places, get them moving, and let them try different things for themselves.
- Variety is the key. Introduce children to several ways to make their hearts beat and why it is important to stay active.
- Finally, adopt a lifestyle and behaviors that show that physical activity and exercise are important to you. Help make the connection between exercise and the positive effects on physical and mental health it can have on an individual.
Yli-Piipari, S., et al. (2020) Predictive Strength of Physical Literacy Indicators Focusing on Physical Activity Education. Journal of Physical Education Teaching. doi.org/10.1123/jtpe.2019-0144.