Current Trends in Physical Education

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  • 0:02 Definition & Importance of PE
  • 1:19 Changes to PE Curricula
  • 3:22 Back on the Rise
  • 3:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde
Back in the day, physical education classes were all about dodge ball, kick ball, and other fun team sports. Today, not so much. The lack of activity in children's free time has meant a new look at how physical education is taught in schools. Read on to find out what this means to crab soccer players today.

Definition & Importance of Physical Education

Children these days are eating more junk food and moving less. The result: overweight, unfit children. To counter the declining fitness trend, many schools and districts have taken a closer look at their physical education (PE) programs. Physical education is the instruction of physical exercise in schools and matters more today than ever before.

Physical education programs are recognizing the academic benefits of quality fitness programs. Exercise increases oxygen flow to the brain, thereby increasing cognitive skills. It also increases neurotransmission in the brain, or the connection of neurons, also known as brain cells. Strengthening these connections means that the brain is remembering more efficiently. Exercise also releases chemicals in the body known to enhance mood, regulate impulsivity, and decrease fidgeting. All the more reason to up the game in PE.

With the opportunity to help turn around declining fitness in children, schools and PE curriculum programs have made drastic changes. Team sports and fun activities that were once the norm are being elbowed out by more intense and direct physical activity focusing on overall health. How can PE time make a difference? Let's take a look at some trends that matter to children's health.

Changes to PE Curricula

The current trend in PE instruction has focused less on fun and team sports and more on getting children healthy. To that end, instructors have had to outline and define goals specific to increasing life-long health. They've identified three core areas for focus: current fitness levels, educating health matters, and teaching how to plan for long-term exercise.

The first key is a focus on fitness. The overall quality of PE classes has shifted from a fun release of energy to an increased scope of physical health. The once popular dodge ball game is no longer considered quality instruction because of one important component: children are eliminated and not being active. New fitness trends call for sustained activity for all children during PE time. This doesn't have to mean the end of team sports, but the games and activities should require all participants to move, a lot. These inclusive programs which require everyone to be active are the biggest shift in PE today.

PE programs now also focus on students understanding health. Knowing how the body works is an important ingredient in maintaining health. To this end, PE instructors have added an educational strand to their curriculum which teaches children about how their body works. Topics for instruction include calories, metabolism, muscle health, and aerobic function. Children who are given the tools to understand how and why unhealthy eating habits impact their health can make better choices for a lifetime.

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