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Physical education is a course that focuses on developing physical fitness in the youth. Same as Music, Gym and Math, this is a required course in primary and secondary school. Most of the time, it is also required in college.
To understand what physical education, we must understand physical fitness which it intends to promote. Physical fitness is comprised of the following:
Cardiovascular fitness - This is the ability of your heart and lungs to deliver the oxygen your body needs for its daily tasks. This is the fitness component that is addressed by such aerobic activities as brisk walking, jogging, running, dancing and swimming.
Strength - This is the amount physical power that a muscle or group of muscles can use against a weight or resistance. This is addressed by such activities as weight lifting and body weight training.
Endurance -This is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to repeat movements or hold a position over a certain period of time. Long-distance running is an activity that helps to develop endurance.
Flexibility - This refers to the body's range of movement. Pilates, yoga and gymnastics help promote this particular fitness component.
Body composition - This refers to the ratio of the body's fat component vs. its lean mass. Exercises that address cardiovascular fitness, strength, endurance and flexibility also promote the reduction of fat and the build-up of muscle.
Students of Music, Gym and Math often have to be challenged, in order to be interested. To break the monotony of the traditional Physical Education courses, many schools have updated their programs. These are some of the trends that are pervading the Physical Education programs across the country:
The inclusion of activities that the students can use for life, like brisk walking, Frisbee and bowling. The principle behind this is that if students learn to like these activities early, they can easily adopt these into their current lifestyle and even carry them into adulthood.
The inclusion of non-traditional sports - This makes Physical Education a cultural immersion at the same time. It teaches cultural sensitivity and can be a lot of fun.
Patterning the Physical Education program after health club programs - The advantage of this is that the student is exposed to a whole variety of activities that can only make Physical Education more fun for her. Here, the student may do Tae-bo one day and do yoga the next. The combination of cardio and strength training activities also promote overall fitness.
Adopting a sports league model - In this scenario, the Physical Education class is run like a sports league. Students take turns playing the roles of referees, players, scorers and coaches. This aims to develop the students into better-rounded, balanced individuals.
Including martial arts and self-defense - Not only do these activities capture the interest of the students - they also promote their safety and well-being. This is a practical improvement on the usual Physical Education program.
Inclusions of health and nutrition topics - Most Physical Education programs in the US include health and nutrition topics such as the following: hygiene, stress and anger management, self-esteem and bullying. Some states even require that Physical Education teachers are also certified as Health teachers.
Exposure to technological enhancements - Students are taught how to use modern gym equipment as well as other fitness-related devices such as pedometers and heart-rate monitors.
Although the primary goal of Physical Education is still to promote the physical fitness and well-being of each student, all these trends and advancements have changed the face of Physical Education forever. Music, Gym and Math will never be the same!