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For today’s students, physical education classes and time spent participating in physical activity in school has been reduced due to lack of resources, and competing curriculum demands. In most high schools, students are not required to take physical education after their second year, as the curriculum only requires two PE classes in order to graduate. Also, being part of an intermural or varsity team is not a requirement but an option for most students.

Academic Institutions are first and foremost, an environment for learning. Studying math, writing and science are very important; however, learning about health, socializing and developing as a human being are vital as well. There is no question that for some, high school can be a challenging environment. But exposure to some physical activity during this time can have a dramatically positive effect in the years to come.

The reality is that obesity levels in children have progressively increased over time. There is no other environment to help educate and implement policies to combat obesity than in educational institutions. Obese children tend to become obese adults, costing the health care system billions of dollars. Childhood obesity also leads to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and emotional and physical health problems.

According to Physical and Health Education Canada, PHE, 57% of Canadian children age 5-17 are not active enough to meet the international guidelines for optimal growth and development. Childhood overweight and obesity rates in Canada have almost doubled since 1978, from 15% to 26%.

A study presented at the 2012 American Psychological Association concluded that middle school students with healthy hearts and lungs scored better in math and reading.

Benefits of Physical Activity

  • Physically active individuals have longer attention spans allowing for greater concentration and absorption during class time. 
  • Physical activity is a preventative measure against disease. Students remain healthier and learn the value of regular exercise
  • Physical activity promotes a physically active lifestyle and promotes good health. 

To combat childhood obesity, physical education and nutrition classes need to be a part of the education system. Physical education has a positive impact on academic performance and may even help facilitate improved performance in the classroom.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. DHURUP M, REDDY L. Social and task cohesion and the relationship with team sport satisfaction and academic performance among a first year university cohort. African Journal For Physical, Health Education, Recreation & Dance. June 2013;19(2):381-393.
2. DU TOIT D, PIENAAR A, TRUTER L. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PHYSICAL FITNESS AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN SOUTH AFRICAN CHILDREN. South African Journal For Research In Sport, Physical Education & Recreation (SAJR SPER). December 2011;33(3):23-35. 
3. Haapala E. Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Motor Skills in Relation to Cognition and Academic Performance in Children — A Review. Journal Of Human Kinetics. March 2013;37:55-68.
4. Reed J, Einstein G, Hahn E, Hooker S, Gross V, Kravitz J. Examining the Impact of Integrating Physical Activity on Fluid Intelligence and Academic Performance in an Elementary School Setting: A Preliminary Investigation. Journal Of Physical Activity & Health [serial online]. May 2010;7(3):343-351.
5. Reed J, Maslow A, Long S, Hughey M. Examining the Impact of 45 Minutes of Daily Physical Education on Cognitive Ability, Fitness Performance, and Body Composition of African American Youth. Journal Of Physical Activity & Health. February 2013;10(2):185-197.
6. The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance. COAHPERD Journal. September 2010;35(2):11-20.
7. VAN D, KELDER S, KOHL III H, RANJIT N, PERRY C. Associations of Physical Fitness and Academic Performance Among Schoolchildren. Journal Of School Health. December 2011;81(12):733-740.

The information presented in SIRC blogs and SIRCuit articles is accurate and reliable as of the date of publication. Developments that occur after the date of publication may impact the current accuracy of the information presented in a previously published blog or article.