Many programs focus on getting students more physically active, citing its benefits for their health both short and long term. They are not wrong, students do benefit from physical activity, but not just physically. They gain important mental, social and academic benefits as well. As a teacher, you can help your students to get active through a motivational school environment, class activities, clubs, sports, and field trips! Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign focused on getting children active and nutritionally healthy, and has a lot of great resources teachers can use every day.
The body and the mind
Physical activity in youth and teens can help them develop mentally. A 2005 study published in Oxford Academic by a group of scientists found a significant link in physical activity and the mental health of students, particularly those in poverty or low-income households. They found higher rates of positive mental health indicators, and lower rates of negative ones for things like anxiety and depression. The students who were physically active in their school day were better equipped mentally for their day as well.
Improvements in social development
In addition to helping students be mentally well, physical activity also can lead to social development. Particularly in the participation of sports and physically active or team-based clubs. Students with a team and a coach or adult organizer gain powerful lessons about working with peers, perseverance, practicing and setting goals, and interacting with adults. This is especially important for students who may not have the same types of interactions at home due to numerous factors. As a teacher looking to start a program to engage your students, a sports team or club could always help them, and may give them life-long skills.
Better academic performance
Lastly, while sports are often seen as detractors from educational pursuits that is more often the opposite of the truth. The students who are engaged in regular sports or fitness activities, with their increased social skills and mental acumen, often achieve higher academically. The lessons they learn about practice and perseverance are transferable, and they have the social skills to speak with adults about the difficulties they are having. They have the skills they need in and out of the classroom.
Instilling the habits of physical activity in students from a young age will benefit your students for their entire life. So, start a soccer team, or running club, or a badminton league. If you believe your students will engage with it, then go for it. You can also try to find ways to bring physical movement into your classroom as well, with games or activities that get students up and moving.
At Daydream Education, we have a large variety of physical education posters designed to motivate students, and encourage a positive mindset when it comes to health and wellbeing.