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Physical literacy is an extremely important component of any healthy lifestyle. With childhood obesity and depression on the rise, today’s educators find significant value in curriculum that incorporates physical education. In the midst of nation-wide budget cuts to educational expenses, “non-essential” programs like music, art, phys-ed, and more are scrounging for support. Gym classes and other physical activities can help students manage stress, stay healthy, and bond with their classmates. The positive impact of these programs is enormous. Here are a few reasons to prioritize physical education:

Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Exercise is proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Children are often overwhelmed with the demands of classroom and social activity and it can be difficult for children to balance these requirements. As a result, many children can suffer from anxiety. Luckily, exercise has an anxiety-reducing effect. Physical activity sends oxygen to the brain allowing it to expand and relax. The ability to take a break during the day can reduce anxious feelings and allow students to focus when it’s time to learn.

Improves Sleep Quality

Physical exercise naturally wears the body making it easier to fall asleep at natural times. Research suggests that aerobic exercise for even ten minutes a day can dramatically improve sleep patterns. Additionally, physical exercise can reduce the risk of developing sleep disorders. Sleep is crucial for school-aged children and their ability to participate in class on a daily basis. A rested student is better able to concentrate, think critically, and exhibit creativity.

Improves Long-Term Health

Exercise also has long-term benefits. Research suggests that youth who engage in aerobic exercise for 20 minutes at least three times per week have a healthier heart as an adult. Other long-term benefits of early exercise include improved bone density, increased flexibility, reduced blood pressure, and lower body mass index. Children who learn the importance of physical exercise at an early age are also more likely to engage in it as an adult.

Increases Self Esteem

Physical activity can also have a huge impact on a child’s self-image. Physical education provides students the opportunity to learn and master new skills in a safe and fun environment. The ability to learn and grow has tremendous benefits for a child’s esteem and can impact the child long-term. Self-confidence impacts overall health and wellness and is known to reduce the risk of depression and anxiety.

These are just a few of the many reasons physical education is so important for today’s youth. The positive benefits of an active lifestyle can’t be denied and should be considered for any school curriculum.