Wellness is a lifestyle that encourages principles of good health and knowledge, which affect behavior patterns. It includes being active, avoiding unhealthy foods and getting enough sleep.
Regular physical activity promotes growth and development and has multiple benefits for physical, mental, cognitive and psychosocial health that undoubtedly contribute to learning.
Physical fitness is any movement produced by skeletal muscle that expends energy and can improve health. It is a concept that has been around for thousands of years and has been defined in different ways by each culture. Physical fitness includes components such as cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, body composition and a sense of well-being.
Wellness is a broader concept than physical fitness and encompasses all areas of life, including emotional and financial. It is the balance of these facets of life that determines a person’s overall health and well-being.
Exercise is a great way to increase physical fitness, which is an important component of wellness. Developing an exercise program that incorporates developmentally appropriate motor activities is one way to encourage children, adolescents and adults of all ages to participate in regular physical activity. A healthy lifestyle can help prevent obesity and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes and increase quality of life.
Mental health includes emotional and psychological well-being, influencing the cognition, perception, and behavior of an individual. It also determines how they interact with others, deal with stress, and make choices.
According to the WHO, peak mental health is not only about managing active conditions and stressors but maintaining ongoing wellness and happiness. It is a critical factor at an individual, community and society level.
Studies have shown that regular exercise can improve mood and help prevent depression. In fact, kids who regularly attend PE class are less likely to miss school due to illness, which can help boost their academic performance.
Those who have mental wellness are better equipped to cope with difficult situations and are more resilient than those who do not. Some people may need to change their lifestyle to promote mental wellness, such as avoiding recreational drugs and alcohol. Others may need to take psychiatric medication. Other treatments that can boost mental wellness include meditation and mindfulness techniques.
Regular physical activity reduces the risk of illness. This in turn promotes mental wellness, which makes it easier to concentrate during PE classes. It also prevents students from missing school due to illness, which helps them stay on track with their academic development.
PE has a large potential as a social education subject because it helps children to learn healthy lifestyle habits that may be carried into adulthood. Research has shown that it can improve children’s social skills, increase their self-efficacy and make them more likely to participate in physical activities.
In a study on didactic social skills incorporated into the content block of games in PE, Del Prette and colleagues checked to what extent students from four primary courses improved their ability to perform social behaviors through the implementation of this teaching unit for one month (10 classes-sessions). The social skills analyzed were: conversational skills (tone of voice and positive attitude), interpersonal problem solving skills, basic social interaction skills and skills related to feelings, opinions and making friends.
Students who are absent from school often have a difficult time keeping up with their academics and can become socially isolated. They are also at greater risk of becoming physically ill, which may increase their chances of missing more classes and eventually dropping out of school.
National recommendations and international guidelines recommend school-age children accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity on most days and avoid prolonged periods of inactivity. School-based PE instruction, PE classes and interscholastic sports programs are the primary opportunities for students to achieve this level of daily physical activity.
Our analysis of the Global School-based Student Health Survey (GSHS) finds that regular participation in PE classes is associated with meeting these physical activity guidelines among children and adolescents around the world, regardless of sex or age. However, the frequency of PE class attendance is much lower in low- and lower-middle-income countries. This suggests that supplemental, community-based physical activity programs could help fill this gap and increase the odds of meeting national physical activity recommendations.