Physical Education

Healthy Bodies Equal Healthy Minds

Mountain Peak is proud to be the only school in the State of Colorado, public or private, that offers daily physical education classes. Research by the American Heart Association shows that only 6% of elementary schools in the United States offer daily physical education classes. This is deemed to contribute to the fact that today, 15.8% of children ages 6-11 are considered overweight.

Further research indicates that physical education greatly contributes to enhancing learning readiness and improving academic performance in students. At Mountain Peak we strive for excellence in academics enhanced by a strong commitment to physical education. Daily physical education classes encourage children to adopt lifelong healthy lifestyle practices as well as helping them learn in the classroom.

Click on the links below to read more about the benefits of daily physical education classes and why we feel so strongly about it.

Physical education and activity at school has many benefits for children.

Quality physical education programs have been shown to: enhance learning readiness, improve academic performance, enrich self-esteem, deter antisocial behavior, restrain drug and alcohol abuse, and reduce absenteeism.

Schools that offer physical education programs – even when time is taken from the academic day – post positive effects on academic achievement, including increased concentration, improved scores in mathematics, reading, and writing, and reduced disruptive behaviors.

School programs are more important for increasing children’s energy expenditure because children are less likely to participate in physical activity in the absence of adult supervision.

Children who are physically active during the day in school are much more likely to be physically active after school as well.

Children need at least 60 minutes and up to several hours of activity daily. It can be accumulated in many short (15 minutes minimum), intermittent bouts of activity and need not be done as continuous exercise.

Physical activity has substantial health benefits for children and adolescents, including favorable effects on endurance capacity, muscular strength, body weight and blood pressure.

Positive experiences with physical activity at a young age help lay the basis for being regularly active throughout life.

Exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression and raise self-esteem. Removing such emotional barriers may help children focus more in the classroom.

Very young children also may learn partly through movement. Physical activity helps them learn about various spatial or temporal relationships.

Sources: Fitness for Youth/University of Michigan; Tennessee Department of Education, Office of School Health Programs; Medical Student Journal of the American Medical Association, 2002; National Association for Health and Fitness; National Association of State Boards of Education; Arizona State University Research e-Magazine, Summer 2002.

Is it physical education or physical activity?

With heightened attention on childhood obesity prevention efforts, there seems to be some confusion between the terms “physical education” and “physical activity.” Often the words are used interchangeably but they differ in important ways. Understanding the difference between the two is critical to understanding why both contribute to the development of healthy, active children. The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) believes every child in the United States deserves both a quality physical education and physical activity program.

School physical education programs offer the best opportunity to provide physical activity to all children and to teach them the skills and knowledge needed to establish and sustain an active lifestyle. Physical education teachers assess student knowledge, motor and social skills, and provide instruction in a safe, supportive environment. NASPE recommends that schools provide 150 minutes of instructional physical education for elementary school children, 225 minutes for middle and high school students per week for the entire school year. Based on sequence of learning, physical education should not be compared to or confused with other physical activity experiences such as recess, intramurals, or recreational endeavors.

A quality physical education program provides learning opportunities, appropriate instruction, meaningful and challenging content for all children, and should include:

Opportunity to Learn:

  • Instructional periods totaling 150 minutes per week (elementary) and 225 minutes per week (middle and high school)
  • Qualified physical education teachers providing a developmentally appropriate program

Appropriate Instruction:

  • Use of instructional strategies that provide meaningful inclusion of all students regardless of skill or fitness level, gender, race or ethnic group
  • Maximum participation and ample practice opportunities for class activities
  • Well-designed lessons that facilitate student learning
  • Appropriate discipline and class management (physical activity should never be used as punishment)
  • Use of regular assessment to monitor and reinforce student learning

Meaningful Content:

  • Instruction in a variety of motor skills that are designed to enhance the physical, mental, and social/emotional development of every child
  • Fitness education and assessment to help children understand, improve and/or maintain their physical well-being
  • Development of cognitive concepts about motor skills and fitness
  • Opportunities to improve emerging social and cooperative skills through physical activity and gain a multi-cultural perspective
  • Promotion of recommended amounts of physical activity now and throughout life

Physical activity is bodily movement of any type and may include recreational, fitness and sport activities such as jumping rope, playing soccer, lifting weights, as well daily activities such as walking to the store, taking the stairs or raking the leaves. Similar health benefits to those received during a physical education class are possible during physical activity bouts when the participant is active at an intensity that increases heart rate and produces heavier than normal breathing. NASPE recommends school-age children accumulate 60 minutes and up to several hours of physical activity per day while avoiding prolonged periods of inactivity.

Opportunities to accumulate physical activity during the school day include time spent in physical education class, classroom-based movement, recess, walking or biking to school, and recreational sport and play that occurs before, during, and after school. Parents and grandparents are urged to get active with their children. The benefits of regular physical activity include:

  • Reduces the risk for overweight, diabetes and other chronic diseases
  • Assists in improved academic performance
  • Helps children feel better about themselves
  • Reduces the risk for depression and the effects of stress
  • Helps children prepare to be productive, healthy members of society and
  • Improves overall quality of life.

NASPE encourages parents and community members to visit the local schools to view daily developmentally appropriate physical education classes and supplementary physical activity opportunities such as recess, physical activity breaks and after school programs.

To learn more about the importance of physical education and physical activity, visit the NASPE website at Citation: Ballard, K, Caldwell D, Dunn C, Hardison A, Newkirk, J, Sanderson M, Thaxton Vodicka S, Thomas C Move More, NC’s Recommended Standards For Physical Activity in School, North Carolina DHHS, NC Division of Public Health, Raleigh, NC; 2005.

Article from the American Heart Association

August 16, 2006

The American Heart Association recommends that schools lead the way to ensure that all children and youth participate in adequate activity during the school day.

“Children and youth spend a substantial number of their waking hours in school, so it’s important that schools provide adequate physical activity” said Russell R. Pate, Ph.D., chairman of the writing group and professor of exercise science at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C.

“Although schools are under increasing pressure to increase student scores on standardized tests, the recent dramatic rise in the prevalence of obesity in children and adolescents in the United States suggests that there is a pressing need for the nation’s schools to systematically and effectively promote behaviors that will prevent the development of overweight,” the authors wrote.

During the past 20 years obesity rates in U.S. children and youth have increased markedly, the writing group said. Today, among children ages 6-11 years old, 15.8 percent are overweight and 31.2 percent are overweight or at risk for overweight.

Among adolescents ages 12-19 years old, 16.1 percent are overweight and 30.9 percent are overweight or at risk for overweight.

While most states require that students receive minimal amounts of physical education (PE), and daily physical education is recommended by many entities, the rapid increase in the prevalence of obesity in young people has occurred at the same time as other alarming trends.

Between 1991 and 2003 the percentage of high school students enrolled in daily physical education decreased from 41.6 percent to 28.4 percent.

Physically active transport to and from school has declined from previous generations. Today only one-third of students who live within one mile of school walk or bike there; and less than 3 percent of students living within two miles of school walk or bike there.

In addition, the statement notes that only 8 percent of elementary schools, 6.4 percent of middle/junior high schools, and 5.8 percent of senior high schools provided daily physical education or allocated the recommended amount of time per week (150 minutes for elementary and 225 minutes for junior and senior high schools), according to a year 2000 study.

“It’s important that kids adopt active lifestyles,” Pate said. “The list of negative health outcomes associated with physical inactivity – including heart disease and type 2 diabetes – is growing.

The scientific statement takes a comprehensive look at the state of physical education, from the amount of time students should be active each week to enhancements in the college education of PE teachers.

“It doesn’t mean backing down on academics – it’s not an either/or thing. A balances academic program should include PE and should also incorporate strategies to increase physical activity throughout the school day,” Pate said. “Physical activity shouldn’t stop at PE class.”

Some of the policy and practice recommendations are:

  1. Schools should ensure that all children and youth participate in a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity during the school day, plus the option of extra-curricular and school-linked community programs.
  1. Schools should deliver evidence-based health-related PE programs that meet national standards to students at all school levels. These programs should include moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for at least 50 percent of class time, as well as teach students the motor and behavioral skills needed to engage in life-long physical activity.
  1. States should hold schools accountable for delivering PE programs that meet national standards for quality and quantity (i.e., age-appropriate amounts of time per week spent active during class). Each state should include physical education in its core curriculum and instructional quality.

The American Heart Association is lobbying in every state to require that quality, daily PE be offered in all grades, that schools adhere to national PE standards for elementary and middle school students and that PE be required for high school graduation.

The scientific statement “Promoting Physical Activity in Children and Youth: A Leadership Role for Schools” is published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.