By Andrew H.
Coming from a very small town in rural Prince Edward Island, I was brought up being physically active every day because to be honest there was not much to do other than play outside with your friends. In school, beginning in grade 1, we had an hour in the gymnasium 5 days a week to develop skills and form that would mold me into the man I am today. Being active in school whether it was in class or during recess and intramural sports made us more active when we were home as well and that is where I see the issue with today’s youth.
“According to the 2005 Survey of Canadian Schools, almost all elementary and middle school students in Canada take at least one physical education class per week: The average is three days of physical education classes per week” (Active Health Kids Canada, 2007, p.18). Furthermore, The Canadian Population Health Initiative said that “Currently, fewer than one in five (16%) of Canadian schools are providing daily physical education” (The Canadian Population Health Initiative, 2004, p.131) For me, a university student hoping to become a physical education teacher someday, these statistics bother me on a few levels. Obviously, this bothers me because it means that they will not need as many teachers and therefore I may have trouble finding work. However, this also bothers me because I feel passionately about the importance of how vital it is to have kids active during school hours, it will help to lower obesity rates because even if that child goes home after school and sits on the couch then at least we know they got at least 45 minutes – 1 hour of exercise that day which can help on a small-scale (however it is shown that active children in school will often times be active outside of the classroom and have better health overall). “Between 1978/79 and 2004, the combined prevalence of overweight and obesity among those aged 2 to 17 years increased from 15 per cent to 26 per cent.” (Public Health, 2012). We all know how scary this statistic is yet we are still taking students physical education time away, in my eyes that is contributing to issue.
It is not only a student’s physical health that gets affected by lack of physical education, mental health is also an issue we must look at. It has been proven that living a healthy active lifestyle will help to prevent and or help with mental health disorders. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says that “According to some studies, regular exercise works as well as medication for some people to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the effects can be long-lasting. One vigorous exercise session can help alleviate symptoms for hours, and a regular schedule may significantly reduce them over time.” (ADAA, nd). This basically says that if we can show students the importance of being active than they statistically will continue and therefore will have less mental health issues.
I don’t think there is anyone out there that can disagree that having children be active and healthy starting at a young age in school will only improve their lives. I personally think that students should get at least one hour of physical education a day every day in schools across Canada. These students are the future of our world and if they are shown the importance of an active lifestyle than we could lower physical and mental health issues for the present as well as the future.
Thank you for reading.
- Public Health Agency of Canada. Curbing Childhood Obesity; A Federal, Provincial and Territorial Framework for Action to Promote Healthy Weights, 2012.
Exercise for Stress and Anxiety. (n.d.). Retrieved October 18, 2015, from http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety
Physical Education in School. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.phecanada.ca/physical-education-school
- Class lectures