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The Role of Physical Education Teachers

Over the last 30 years, the United States has watched childhood obesity skyrocket at an alarming rate. According to cdc.gov, the percentage of obese children, ages 6-11, jumped from 7% in 1980 to 18% in 2012. The adolescent range saw an even more dramatic jump during the same period; obesity in children ages 12-19 rose from 5% to almost 21%.

One of the most pro-active ways to counteract this disturbing trend is through our school's Physical Education teachers. It is within the educational arena where routine and education meet to help form healthy habits from a young age. Through regular exposure to health and wellness education, children can develop an informed understanding of how their choices and actions (or inactions) can negatively impact not only their physical health, but their mental and emotional well-being.

The National Institutes for Healthaffirms that students who are actively engaged in some sort of physical activity excel in other areas of life, including academic and personal development. It falls upon Physical Educators to effectively relay the benefits of incorporating exercise into daily life, explain the far-reaching benefits of beginning and maintaining a healthy routine, which include proper nutrition and proper exercise.

PE teacher jogging with group of young students

Cornell University reports that children, when engaged in regular recess and physical activity before lunch, make healthier food choices, citing that 54% of them eat more fruits and vegetables, and a 45% increase in students eating at least one serving of fruits and vegetables during the school day. Physical activity coupled with proper nutrition both play essential roles in a healthy, productive day both during and after school hours.

This leads to a greater sense of balance in not only the life of the student, but the greater student body, the parents of students and by default, the community at large. When healthy behavior is reinforced by a student's community, this increases the chances of children and adolescents carrying these healthy habits into adulthood, a trend which can help decrease a further incline in obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc.

The fact that this is being cut from schools can be disheartening, and all the more reason for physical educators to understand the importance and impact of their roles.

This can be done not only in the school system, but through community outreach as well; through the design and implementation of intramural sports programs, Physical Educators can expand participation from the immediate student body to the greater community. By doing this, they can forge mutually beneficial school and community partnerships, whereby creating a larger support network to reinforce the importance of extracurricular physical activities and healthy habits, encouraging the support and funding needed to allow these programs a more secure opportunity to grow and thrive.

Today, the role of Physical Educators is more important than ever; when these instructors are able to do their jobs effectively and with cooperation from the school system and the community, everyone - within the student body and beyond - benefits.

To learn more about how you can help improve the health of children and communities by becoming a PE teacher, contact the schools below.