Originally published Aug. 27, 2022 by Northern Star.
By Philip Arduini, Opinon Columnist
Now that school is back in session, we should aim to get children back toward exercising.
Hearing the words “Fitnessgram Pacer Test” may cause negative flashbacks for some, but physical education is vital for improving the lives of our children.
We live in a time in which we can get errands done on our phone without getting up from the couch, and computer-based desk jobs don’t appear to be going away any time soon. For this reason, we should instill healthy behaviors into our children at an early age so they do not fall into the health crisis we see today. With all of the unhealthy habits we have today, we need to prioritize physical education in schools.
In the past, it was fair to assume that children would go outside and play to get exercise in addition to their P.E. classes. Children can now find their forms of entertainment and social interactions online, which inherently leads to children spending less time on exercise. Lack of exercise was only further worsened by the pandemic as Americans were forced indoors. The pandemic also resulted in mental health issues, which in turn causes physical stress on the body. Children felt these problems as well.
Illinois State Board of Education officials announced that “Illinois continues to be under the aforementioned disaster declaration, most recently reissued March 4; therefore, the Fitnessgram assessment will not be required for the 2021-22 school year.”
Beyond the obvious physical health benefits that various forms of exercise provide, kids can find new forms of enjoyment. If children are exposed to various forms of physical activity, they may find themselves engaged in a sport that they are particularly interested in or good at.
Additionally, team sports encourage social skills and teamwork, which can oftentimes last through adulthood. Because of the health benefits, personal enjoyment, and lasting skills that result from exercise, we need to put more emphasis on physical education at the elementary and high school levels.