Psychology -
Cognitive and Behaviorist Studies

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PE, Physical Activities & Academic Achievement

       The academic success of America's youth is strongly linked with their health according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention report Health & Academics

Benefits of Participation in Physical Activities and Sports
      Research, led by Charles Hillman, a professor of kinesiology and community health and the director of the Neurocognitive Kinesiology Laboratory at Illinois, suggests that vigorous participation in physical activities may increase students cognitive control – or ability to pay attention – and also result in better performance on academic achievement tests.

     Teachers and coaches concur that children seem to be better able to allocate their attention when they embrace participation in physical activities. To be successful as athletes, they must learn to "tune" out crowd noise that would otherwise be a distraction and selectively focus on accomplishing the desired task.

     School should be encouraged to integrating physical activity into the curriculum:
  • Scheduling outdoor recess as a part of each school day;
  • Offering formal physical education 150 minutes per week at the elementary level, 225 minutes at the secondary level;
  • Encouraging integration of physical activity into classroom learning by teachers.
School based Physical Education
      It is possible to add physical activities to school curriculums by reducing time in other subjects without  hindering academic achievement. However, taking time from a physical education program, to add time to academic subjects, does not enhance grades in academic subjects. In fact reductions in physical activities may cause student performance to actually decline because the time in class exceeds the students ability to focus and absorb complex concepts.

      Physical education and activity that is scheduled as part of the regular curriculum during the school day is recommended as it has been shown to help keep kids attention in the classroom. There is a caveat, the activities must be designed to involve every child and not be demeaning like "Dodge Ball" which has been discontinued in almost all school districts. 

      Children must look forward to participating in these activities so they have fun and return to classes with renewed energy and a positive attitude. They will dread physical activities that consistently result in their being picked last for teams, are bullied, and/or if are constantly the targets of teachers who make fun of their poor performance or characterize them as "slackers".

      Parents, teachers, and researchers need to understand what motivates students so there can be a coordinated effort to incorporate physical vigorous activities that appeal to male and female students who and not likely to experience physical injury and be intimidated by stronger and more aggressive individuals.

      Timing of the physical activities must be researched to see if the benefits change according to the scheduling. Another factor is if the activities are indeed vigorous, will time be available for changing into clothing suitable for the activity and showering upon competition of the activity.

      In many areas of the country the weather may extend the outdoor activities; however, cold climates and those with excess precipitation poses a scheduling problem to allow shifting activities inside in inclement weather. Elementary schools rarely have indoor gyms and locker rooms with showers. Some middle schools and all but the smallest high schools have a indoor gyms and locker rooms with showers. 

     Scheduling physical education classes can create a problem if sweating students return to classrooms after vigorous workouts without showering. Light to moderate exercising can avoid the need of showering, but also may not produce any increases in academic improvement.

     Sport programs are traditionally scheduled to start the last class period. Scheduling physical activities for other students at the same time may not be practical due to the availability of space and number of qualified instructor/teachers to supervise and control all of the physical activities and sports.

Community base Physical Activities and Sports
     Many families, who can afford the expense, make an effort for their children to participate in physical activities such as ballet, marshal arts, swimming, ice skating, gymnastics, lacrosse, soccer, biking, golfing, tennis, bowling. handball, etc., especially as such activities are not part of an elementary school curriculum. In fact such activities are rarely available in middle schools and most high schools. When available, the funding primarily is directed towards sports dominated by male students.

     Not all children will thrive in sports that require physical contact and select individuals with specific body conformations and an "aggressive" type of personality. An excellent example such sports are boxing, ice hockey, football, water polo, etc.

     While some individuals enjoy playing in team sports, others prefer to participate in sports where the individuals compete. Track and field, swimming, diving, golf, speed and figure skating, etc. are examples of sports where individuals with less assertive personalities can thrive and compete.

     The link between physical activity and academic performance seems to be most significant when students met the Healthy People 2010 (HP2008) guidelines for vigorous activities 20 minutes a day, at least three days a week. Moderately active children did not show any improvement when spending 30 minutes a day at least five days a week.

Nearly all of the extra curricular sports and physical activities, such as ballet, irish
dancing, ballroom dance, judo,  figure and speed skating, tennis, equestrian events,
etc., require a serious participant to spend much more time per week than the
minimum of 20 minutes a day, at least three days a week.

     The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans produced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides science based guidance to help Americans aged 6 and older improve their health through appropriate physical activity. The Guidelines can help you to:

  • Learn about the health benefits of physical activity,
  • Understand how to do physical activity in a manner that meets the Physical Activity Guidelines,
  • Understand how to reduce risks of activity related injuries,
  • Assist others in participating regularly in physical activities.
Recommended Reading:
  • DOC PMI  stands for 'Plus/Minus/Implications'. It is a valuable improvement to the ' weighing pros and cons' technique used for centuries.
  • The Importance of Yoga for Sports Persons   Feb. 5, 2011 Yoga is a holistic system - teaching skills which many sports persons seek, such as control over the mind, control over the body, good breathing, etc.
  • Autonomic Nervous System - NDRF   The autonomic nervous system conveys sensory impulses from the blood vessels , the heart and all of the organs in the chest, abdomen and pelvis, etc.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder  All kids have worries and doubts. But some have obsessive- compulsive disorder (OCD) in which their worries compel them to behave in certain ways.
  1. Chapter 1: Introducing the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
  2. Chapter 2: Physical Activity Has Many Health Benefits
  3. Chapter 3: Active Children and Adolescents
  4. Chapter 4: Active Adults
  5. Chapter 5: Active Older Adults
  6. Chapter 6: Safe and Active
  7. Chapter 7: Additional Considerations for Some Adults
  8. Chapter 8: Taking Action: Increasing Physical Activity Levels of Americans
  9. Glossary
  10. Appendix 1. Translating Scientific Evidence About Total Amount and Intensity of
  11. Physical Activity Into Guidelines
  12. Appendix 2. Selected Examples of Injury Prevention Strategies for Common
    Physical Activities and Sports
  13. Appendix 3. Federal Web Sites That Promote Physical Activity
The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

Modifying Skills & Poor Techniques

All materials are copy protected. 
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.

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