The following is Part I of some notes Diane Ruby and Val Kohlman, both PE teachers in the St. Vrain Valley School District, made after reading several studies, books, and other resources that discussed the importance and value of physical education in our schools.

  • Physical activity provides opportunities for enjoyment, challenge, self-expression, and social interaction.
  • Wellness involves more than just being "physically fit"
  • Regular physical activity plays a role in the pursuit of life-long health and well-being.
  • After smoking, physical inactivity is the single largest health risk factor in the country today.
  • The percentage of overweight young people has more than doubled in the last 30 years. 
  • One out of four children do not attend any school physical education classes and only one of three get physical education activity every day.
  • The Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health states: "Physical inactivity is a serious, nationwide problem. Its scope poses a public health challenge for reducing the national burden of unnecessary illness and premature death."
  • As parents, we are concerned about the academic progress of our children. The time is now to reinforce your children's effort and achievement for participating in healthy physical activities.
  • Adults who are physically active are at lesser risk of dying from heart disease, developing diabetes, colon cancer and high blood pressure.
  • Physical education is an integral and essential component of the education of American youth.
  • Your children need to know that physical activity can help them: feel good look good help them succeed keep them healthy
  • Studies show that regular physical exercise typically helps to manage day-to-day stress in all students. With a planned sequence of physical activity, students report to be less depressed and moody.
  • Physical activity also helps children with developmental problems like increasing the completion rate of written tasks and reducing the degree of off task behavior.
  • Individuals who pursue physical activity on a regular basis (walking, swimming, bicycling) tend to "steer clear" of physically and mentally damaging activities such as using drugs and smoking.
  • Physical education is a necessity--not a luxury--for the health and well-being of every child.
  • A 1974 study of 538 sixth graders in Texas showed that those who performed tasks geared toward motor-sensory development scored better on a standardized academic test than their peers.
  • Study of 500 Canadian children found that those who spent an hour a day in gym class academically outperformed those who did no structured exercises.
  • The way people learn, remember and anchor ideas is through movement." "About every 20 minutes kids need to be up and moving."
  • Physical education classes provide a natural opportunity for children to learn concepts like around, over and under, front and behind and above and below. They also learn about such things as speed, distance, height, shape, color, direction and position--concepts which lend themselves to a physical learning experience.

Ensure that physical education is a part of his/her early curriculum. Physical education helps kids--even those with speech and language delays--to understand language concepts and apply appropriate labels.

Even children whose cognitive and language abilities were impaired showed improvements when language skills were taught during physical education activities.

Benefits of elementary physical education:

Academic Performance

  • aerobic activity can "... increase vigor and promote clear thinking." "involvement in physical activity can positively affect grade scores of students in primary schools."

  • Regular physical activity also makes children more alert and energetic, which improves their capacity to learn.
  • Health

  • nearly 40% of children age five to eight have health conditions that significantly increase their risk of early heart disease.

  • physically active people outlive inactive people

  • American Heart Association--"Schools at all levels should develop and encourage positive attitudes toward physical exercise, providing opportunities to learn physical skills and to perform physical activities, especially those that can be enjoyed for many years."

  • Weight control

  • percent of body fat significantly impacts health

  • Active participation in physical education increases energy expenditure and helps control excessive food intake and body fat levels.
  • Physical Fitness

  • "Increased physical fitness improves heart/lung function, reduces body fat and decreases the risk of disease associated with unhealthy lifestyles" "

  • "Enhances moral and class behavior... and is.... an alternative to drugs for todays youth"
  • Other:

    • movement knowledge/motor skill development
    • self esteem
    • stress management
    • social development


    Submitted by Diane Ruby and Val Kohlman who are Physical Eductors in the St. Vrain Valley School District in Longmont and Niwot, CO. Thanks so much for sharing your collected information with PE Central!
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