Our bodies really are a machine; an amazing and organized system that works hard to keep us going. Every function of our circulatory, respiratory, musculoskeletal, and other systems work in conjunction, relying on each other to create the incredible result that is the body.
Lifting that spoon of cereal to your mouth takes a host of functions that interact and coordinate to make it possible to eat. Remove one, and suddenly, cereal falls off the spoon or never even leaves the bowl. Everything must work together and function well.
So, we care for our bodies, and we exercise to keep the systems healthy. And, the sooner we start, the better the body develops into a healthier machine. That means starting fitness young is key.
If our bodies are a machine, then the heart is the engine and the brain is the power switch. Both are vital, but brain functions pre-empt the heart. While we need to stay active so our heart can run the systems relying on it, the brain is the on/off switch that keeps it going.
The brain not only guides our actions and behaviors but directs our body to perform every function, including the heart. It’s the onboard computer system that makes everything work together. For children, brain function is vital to development, and anything that affects a developing brain must receive due attention.
So, while much of fitness focuses on the physical body and heart health, this focus should not eclipse the importance the role fitness has on children’s mental health. There are major ways that exercise improves children’s abilities to think and feel, which is why this is such a vital and significant effect.
With all the brain chemistry and systems operating in balance, kids’ brainpower performs at optimal levels. They are their best and brightest versions of themselves with proper amounts of every chemical swirling around as it should, in addition to the right quantities of vitamins and nutrients working hard as well.
Regular exercise affects these balances and levels, creating ideal amounts with which to regulate the body. True health means the body, as well as the mind, is functioning well.
Conversely, a lack of exercise can adversely affect children’s well-being. From bad moods to serious medical conditions like mood disorders, depression, or diabetes, the absence of exercise can exacerbate childhood illnesses or states of mind. Feeling negative can be a result of low hormone levels, a sluggish endocrine system, or the inability to process a high caloric intake of sugar or fat.
And, it can become a vicious cycle; feeling bad may lead to worse eating habits, weight gain, or activity avoidance, further worsening the problems. In this way, a lack of exercise and fitness puts children at risk for mental health problems that could become potentially life-threating.
While exercise is not a magic bullet that makes problems go away, it certainly contributes to better health and overall well-being in children. When children feel a physical sense of strength and fitness at a young age, they are more likely to maintain a strong mental capacity that is cognitively and emotionally balanced, making it possible for them to be their best selves, in mind and body.
As children engage in activities that get them moving, there are significant side effects that participating has on their lives. From better health overall to long-term benefits into adulthood, childhood fitness has some great byproducts beyond just fun.
Fun should be a main driving factor in getting children to participate in physical activity. Having fun with fitness continues to drive motivation for children. However, the following are 20 hard facts about the benefits of incorporating fitness into the lives of youths:
Any one of these would be reason alone to get kids active but imagine the collective advantages that come from all twenty working together. Children will be healthier and stronger, both physically and mentally, for their childhood as well as adulthood.
The healthier we grow as a society, the more we can develop culturally and individually. It’s a benefit to the world we live in when everyone has better health.
The financial costs alone for managing poor health are astronomical, not to mention the tragic loss of lives from preventable diseases or emotional suffering on relationships from the strain of caregiving. All these detract from our quality of life.
As society finds more reasons to be sedentary, from our workplace functions that require sitting at a computer to our advances in technology that make it less necessary to budge from the couch (order dinner, groceries, and clothes, all online!), it’s even more important to get moving early and often. Small movements grow larger over time as fitness transforms body strength and allows more opportunities to handle greater exercise.
While a simple game of catch seems like a small gesture, maybe meant to occupy a child’s attention, the movement does more good than just keeping them busy and having fun for a bit; it has a greater impact on the wellbeing of that child and their place in the world. The simple movements like that game of catch with a ball transform into bigger opportunities to move, like group sports or activities centered on ball play.
The facts of the matter are clear: fitness improves the quality of life, and it’s hard for anyone to argue against that. The sooner we accept our ability to improve life through movement and activity, the better we will feel in life.
Love is in the air! Valentine’s Day celebrates love, and it doesn’t always have to be romantic. Love boils down to a passion for something (or someone!), and so we can celebrate the holiday by sharing the love for physical activity with students.
When you feel passionate about something, it shows. Your enthusiasm, energy, and enjoyment are palpable, visible as the expression on your face, gestures with your hands, and sound of your voice. When you talk about something you love, the feelings bubble up and over into everything you do or say.
Falling in Love with Physical Activity
There are ways to transfer your passion for physical activity to others so that they can experience the same enthusiasm and joy. Here are a few ways to helps students fall in love with physical activity:
1. Exude Positive Energy. Invite the students in with positive energy. Show them your feelings with exuberant talking, exciting demonstrations, and fond memories about your own participation.
2. Provide Easy Wins. Give students a chance to succeed. Break down the activity into smaller roles and make it fun.
3. Offer Encouragement and Support. Acknowledge when it’s hard and recognize efforts when they try.
Role Model Passion for Physical Activity
High levels of excitement are contagious, and students will be influenced by your attitude. When you talk with enthusiasm and demonstrate with zest, you transfer your excitement to the students. Let them see your passion for the activity and look through your eyes at the joy of participating in it.
When students see your love for physical activity, they experience an example of the way they could feel, too. You are a role model showing them the ways physical activity can make them feel. So be excited, talk passionately, share your joy, and be thrilled when you take part in the activity. They will follow suit.
We are showing the love this month by offering a 10% discount on all Skillastics® products you order ONLINE. Use CODE: lv2020 at checkout.
Exercise takes many forms, but for students, the best option is a group exercise. There is no argument against solo activities and lone forms of exercise, like weightlifting or exercise machines, for contributing to health, but they lack an important ingredient for youths: external motivation and affirmation.
For students, there are often internal struggles to feel validated or good about themselves. Any activity that gives them more self-respect is a huge plus. When students participate in group exercise, they gain more of the building blocks for self-esteem.
Classes or teams in which students exercise together create significant benefits for students’ social, emotional, and physical needs. The group exercise is more likely to push them further than they would imagine possible, allow them to feel a greater sense of purpose, and further develop their potential.
Watching another person accomplish the same activity that you’re doing is motivating if you fall behind or affirming if you are keeping up. Exercising in a group provides instant feedback that keeps you engaged and focused.
When a group of people exercises together, it forms a community in which each individual shares the same goal: to achieve the activity. How and the ways in which each accomplishes the goal varies, but those variations are the important aspects of group exercise because they set examples others can learn from.
Exercising in a group helps students believe more in themselves and their abilities. The following are just a few of the key ways that group exercise strengthens self-respect:
Competition gets our blood flowing, meaning we push ourselves harder when we compete. There’s an inherent desire to win driving us during a competition, and it causes us to rev up mentally and amp up physically; we rise to the challenge.
When students exercise in a group, they tap into this inner drive that makes them want to best an opponent. They see a peer excel, and they want that for themselves. There is an inner push to strive harder when they compare their progress to another’s.
This competitive edge can be healthy when initiated properly. Students work harder because they want to test themselves, push past their boundaries, and achieve more based on a comparison of ability. In a group, students see each other’s skills, understand the possibilities, and strive for this higher benchmark. They put more faith in themselves and their ability.
There is nothing more contagious than a mood, good or bad. People can spread feelings faster than the flu, and in a group setting, students can benefit from the positive influences of others who feel good during the activity. Just as one bad apple can spoil it for the bunch, the opposite is true; one inspiring, enthusiastic participant can raise the moods of others and bring everyone’s spirits up.
When we reach a low point in our physical ability, whether we’re out of breath or feeling the strain from pushing ourselves, it’s so tempting to let go and give up. However, seeing another’s energy and high-level enthusiasm can inspire us to keep going. Their energy resonates within us, and we feel just as pumped as they do, allowing us to revive and push through.
Students who work together in a group can help one another with flagging spirits or low-energy moments, sharing a communal feeling of achievement so that there is reason to keep going when they are tempted to quit. They develop their potential and learn to believe in themselves.
In a group physical activity, students learn to work together and negotiate their space, giving them a better understanding of themselves within a bigger picture. Participating in physical activity bonds the participants through shared efforts and a mutual goal. They are in this together!
That feeling of a community against the odds or toward an achievement creates a real sense of purpose and belonging. For students, working in groups gives them a sense of place and membership, key ingredients for self-esteem building.
The more students feel like they belong to the group, the more they invest and work to stay with the group. They will participate better, care more, and work harder when they feel that the group matters to them—and that they matter to the group. They discover their worth and value themselves.
Students who exercise in a group are more likely to feel better about themselves and stick with the activity. When they participate with others in an activity, there is a greater sense of accountability to the group and themselves. This accountability is a key building block for self-respect because it helps students appreciate themselves in relation to the group and care about themselves and others.
Fear in children isn’t always expressed with wide-eyes and tears, particularly with older teens. In school, fear of failure at an activity or standing out in a bad way can manifest as refusals to participate.
When faced with a child or teenager’s refusal to participate, it can be tough, but these are children feeling fear. It’s up to you to role model bravery and provide safety.
Source of Fears
Not every child in a PE or After School Program is an expert in sports, so some may struggle to learn. For them, aiming at the net in basketball but throwing an air ball in front of everyone may feel humiliating.
From dribbling the ball right to remembering the rules, these children see nothing but opportunities to fail when playing basketball. So, they avoid it all together; they refuse to participate.
What Can You Do?
When someone is feeling fear, it’s like they are backed into a corner. Pushing them will only cause them to feel further penned in with no choice other than digging in deeper. It’s time to be creative and show them a way out of the corner.
1.Don’t Fight Them. They will seem angry and obstinate, but remember, they are scared. Don’t fuel the fires of their anger. Show them bravery by staying calm in the face of their adversity.
2.Acknowledge Their Choice. Give permission to skip the game. Tell them you understand they don’t want to play, so let’s do something else that’s less threatening and helps build self-esteem instead of tear it down.
3.Redirect the Energy. Introduce fun games and activities that focus on skill development, like Basketball Skillastics®. Pull from these to give them small challenges that they can win. Focus on the skill, not the game
Making it Fun for All
When you push someone out of their comfort zone, it helps to provide a bridge. That’s where skill development come into the picture. Not everyone will be able to play a game of basketball, but skill development is accessible to everyone.
One of the reasons Basketball Skillastics® works well with a diverse group is because its inclusive and allows a whole class to practice their skills in a fun way all at the same time. Also, you can float the room once everyone is occupied. Now, you can assess everyone’s skill level, provide more support for reluctant students, and allow skilled students to showcase their abilities.
Bridging the Gulf
Develop resources to bridge the gulf to reach and draw out fearful students; you have a real chance to help change their attitudes. We can get you started with Basketball Skillastics®, a resource designed so that all children can have fun learning basketball instead of missing out. Throughout November when you use the code bb2019, you’ll receive 10% off so that you can begin to use this resource right away. Purchase online or via Purchase Order to FAX (951) 279-3957 or email to Suzanne Blair at email@example.com
It’s that time of year again! Gyms echo with the squeaks of sneakers as we kick off Basketball Season. During PE and after school this time of year, it’s all about basketball. It’s also the number one choice of recess activity; more basketballs are requested this time of year, and for good reason!
Everyone can play with a ball. But not everyone can or wants to play a sport.
Basketball for All
So, it’s tough to create lessons to teach basketball; how do you include students who are good at basketball and want to be challenged as well as students who have very little interest in the sport?
The solution is to focus on skill development. All students, no matter their ability, can have fun developing their skills in a non-threatening, non-competitive atmosphere.
Creating the Right Environment
By following the 5 tips below, you can make it easier to teach basketball fundamentals to diverse groups:
1.A Ball for Each. Get each student a ball, any ball. If it bounces and fits through a net, it’s great to use to teach basketball fundamentals. If you must share, follow a ratio of two students per ball.
2.Control the Bouncing. Kids love to bounce the ball! They can’t seem to help themselves, despite requests to stop, and it gets disruptive. So, remove temptation. Create a signal word or phrase like “stall the ball!” at which they put the ball between their feet when they hear it.
3.Delegate to Motivate and Engage. If you’re not comfortable demonstrating a fundamental, allow skilled students to take this role. They will love it!
4.Keep Them Moving! Downtime breeds distractions or misbehaving. Keep them actively engaged. Waiting in line? Practice dribbling or ball-handling. Waiting for a ball? Mirror the activity to learn the motions.
5.Play the Game Last. At the end of the lesson, avoid playing a game of basketball. Modify the game to highlight the skill learned in the session.
Resource for Skill Building
To modify the game or learn other skill development ideas so all children enjoy the sport, consult resources like Basketball Skillastics®. Motivated by the desire to create an all-inclusive and whole class learning environment, Basketball Skillastics was designed to practice skills in a fun way together.
For this month, let’s make the most of the sport by getting the most children involved through skill development. Celebrate the start of basketball season with a 10% discount on Basketball Skillastics® throughout November for After School and Physical Education Instructors with code bb2019. Online, or Purchase Order. https://skillastics.com/product/basketball-skillastics/
Can you imagine your job getting easier, and more productive? What if you could maximize participation without wasting the limited time you have? Wouldn’t it be great to have a resource at your disposal guaranteeing a glowing administrative review?
With Skillastics® you can.
The Skillastics® Activity Kit System is a powerful resource that will transform your program. Not Convinced? Following are 5 key reasons why Skillastics® will undeniably make your program great.
1) Increase Academic Learning
A requirement you are constantly hearing from your administration. Skillastics® bridges the gap between physical activity and academics by seamlessly incorporating vocabulary, literacy, math and STEM learning. Skillastics® is an innovative way of including more academic integration.
2) Connecting with Classroom Teachers
What makes Skillastics® stand out beyond any other physical activity resource is its ability to connect directly with classroom teachers through the Skillastics® Custom Question Card Templates for nutrition, STEM and math. Simply share these templates with classroom teachers and ask them to create questions that are relevant to the lessons that they are currently teaching. You would then take these questions and add them to your program while your students are playing Skillastics®. Instant connection!
3) Organized Chaos
The best large group resource available! You will not find a better large group resource out there. Period. Any instructor that is using Skillastics® properly will tell you that the Skillastics® Activity Kit System exceeds their expectations and reinforces all the reasons why they decided to add Skillastics® to their program.
4) Steller Assessment
It is crucial to assess students to make sure they are really learning. If you, your students, parents, and administration truly want to see fitness progression in your class, the Skillastics® Activity Kit System is the most effective resource to measure movement in a variety of ways.
• Fully Engaged
Students are full engaged, which frees you up to conduct formative assessment, measuring all students progress and mastery of skill without interruption.
• Effective Feedback
With students fully engaged, Skillastics® provides a more relaxed atmosphere for feedback and individual instruction when needed.
• Summative Assessment with Technology
Skillastics® is the most effective resource to measure student outcomes using heart rate monitors or other technology based devices.
5) The Skillastics® Activity Kit System Saves Time
Do you see your student’s once a week? Twice a week if you’re lucky? How many times do you see a new lesson activity that looks like fun, but takes much too long to set up? The innovative Skillastics® technique takes less than a minute to set up and allows for maximum participation while increasing fitness levels.
Introducing the Skillastics® Activity Kit System into your program will exceed your expectations and fulfill all your objectives. Visit www.skillastics.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to transform your program today.
A quality physical education program has curriculum, units, and lessons that are standards based. One of the important standards for a physical educator is Standard 1 which states that a physically literate person demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns (SHAPE America; National Standards & Grade Level Outcomes). This standard allows physical educators to prepare students to participate in many different physical activities and sports with confidence, which will lead to a life full of activity.
I have taught physical education for 23 years, and every year I always ask my students why they may not like certain sports and physical activities that we do. Each year, I get the same response: “I don’t like the activity because I’m not very good at it.” I then ask them how they could get better at it. Well, we all know that if they got better at the skills, it would make the game play better, and then more fun will be had when they play the activity/sport.
Along with Standard 1, moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) has become a major focus in our lessons. However, with this focus on MVPA, some have dropped focusing on Standard 1 because focusing on skills may not get their students’ heart rate up into the appropriate range. But, this does not have to be the case. Skills can still be taught effectively while focusing on MVPA as well.
As I have traveled across the country doing presentations at various state and national conferences, my platform and focus has been on infusing fitness into daily lessons. One of the sports I present on is volleyball, and the teaching of the forearm and overhead pass. One way I used to teach these skills was with the command style, and they were pretty stationary. As I went back and looked at my lessons and started asking myself about whether or not they were getting to the appropriate MVPA, I noticed that I needed to change the way I had the students work on their skills. We all know that if they lack the skills, the game of volleyball is a serve, it hits the ground, and the team scores a point; not much fun for anyone. So, with a little thinking and creativity, I have been able to increase MVPA and skill development.
Within my research of trying to find ways to increase skills and MVPA, I came across the Skillastics® program. The first one I used, was the basketball program. Then, the volleyball kit came out, and I knew I had to have it. Skillastics® fits with everything I believe in and want to accomplish in my class. The one nice thing about it, I didn’t have to come up with the fitness activities and there would be a lot of variation in my lessons. Throughout my volleyball unit, I use the task cards to help with the skill development. It allows the students to work independently, but yet stay focused on the skills but yet get in a good workout. Once they have learned the tasks from the kit, we use the entire kit to play Volleyball Skillastics®. While they are doing this, I know they are working on the skills, increasing MVPA, and having fun.
Skill development is crucial in giving the students confidence they can participate competently in the sport or activity. However, just because you work on skills, doesn’t mean that MVPA must be lost. All you need to do is think, be creative, or use a program that already focuses on both.
CLICK HERE To Learn More About Volleyball Skillastics®!
Schools across the country will now have step-by-step guidance and evidence-based strategies to support school recess for all K-12 students and enhance active school environments. The two new guidance documents, Strategies for Recess in Schools and Recess Planning in Schools: A Guide to Putting Strategies for Recess Into Practice, were recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators, and can be downloaded free of charge at:
“This is a milestone in our quest to increase children’s physical activity levels. Daily recess, monitored by well-trained staff or volunteers, can optimize a child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development,” says SHAPE America Chief Executive Officer E. Paul Roetert, Ph.D. “Recess contributes to the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity for students and helps them apply the knowledge and skills they learn in an effective health and physical education program. In addition, recess supports 50 Million Strong, SHAPE America’s commitment to empower all kids to lead active and healthy lives.”
The guidance documents provide a blueprint for schools to use in implementing successful recess programs for their students. They are designed for state and school district leaders who provide technical assistance and professional development on recess, as well as classroom teachers, recess and playground supervisors, support staff, school administrators, parent-teacher organizations, school health coordinators, advisory councils, parents and anyone interested in supporting recess in schools.
Strategies for Recess in Schools defines recess and identifies 19 evidence-based strategies schools can implement that increase student physical activity and academic achievement. Although most of the evidence and expert opinion for these strategies came from elementary schools, many of the strategies are also applicable to secondary schools. The intent is for school staff or groups working with schools to identify what is currently happening or not happening with recess in their school, and then use this information to develop a recess plan that serves all students.
Recess Planning in Schools: A Guide to Putting Strategies for Recess Into Practice complements the strategies document by guiding schools through the process of developing a written recess plan that incorporates the identified strategies. In addition, CDC and SHAPE America developed a customizable Recess Planning Template, which enables schools to record details of how they will organize and implement recess at school.
The new recess documents will be featured at a program session called “Strategies for Recess in Schools” at the organization’s National Convention in Boston on Tuesday, March 14 from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm. Attendees will learn how recess can help students increase their daily physical activity and contribute to achieving the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day. The new resources will help schools develop a comprehensive plan for recess to increase students’ participation in physical activity and improve their academic achievement.
By diving into each of the five broad categories included in the Strategies for Recess in Schools document, school staff or committees will be able to answer specific questions which will help them examine and enhance an existing recess program, or develop a new recess plan for a school.
Download the two new guidance documents, Strategies for Recess in Schools and Recess Planning in Schools: A Guide to Putting Strategies for Recess Into Practice, free of charge at:
Follow the conversation using #SHAPErecess and #recess.
Registration is now open for the premier professional development event for health and physical educators — the 132nd National Convention & Expo of SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators, March 14-18, 2017, in Boston. Health and physical educators will be inspired with new ideas, skills, and ways to transform their schools, while making connections with like-minded colleagues and learning about new funding ideas to support their programs.
Knowing that health and physical educators are vital to students’ social-emotional learning, SHAPE America invited Maya Enista Smith, executive director of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, and Steve Gross, chief executive optimist of the Life is Good Kids Foundation, to keynote the Opening General Session on Wednesday, March 15. In her presentation, Enista Smith will discuss “Creating a Kinder and Braver World” while Gross will discuss “Discovering the Power of Optimism.” Dean Kriellaars, Ph.D., University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, will highlight his work with Cirque de Soleil as he presents “Physical Literacy: the Gateway to Active Participation” on Friday, March 17.
According to SHAPE America President Jackie Lund of Georgia State University, “With the recent ESSA legislation, it is a time of great opportunity for the health and physical education professions. To succeed all of us will need new skills, knowledge and the motivation to impact the learning and behavior of America’s children beyond our traditional role in classrooms and gymnasiums.”
Here’s one such convention opportunity: On Tuesday afternoon, March 14, SHAPE America Past President Steve Jefferies and other leaders in the field will host a “50 Million Strong by 2029 Forum,” an interactive session designed to inspire and provide direction on how to get all of America’s school-age children physically active and healthy. Learn firsthand how this commitment will challenge all of us to reconsider, reimagine and redesign how we deliver physical education and health education to America’s students. Hear how progress will be measured, what current evaluation tools and processes can be used to evaluate success, and how you can be a “champion.”
Complimentary 50 Million Strong T-shirts will be given away to the first 300 registered participants.
Research will also have a large presence in Boston. The Research Council is hosting a session titled, “Learning from the Past, Making History” which will be a session that contains a historical perspective of SHAPE America and its research disciplines followed by a discussion about the future. This session will include research and discussion by SHAPE America members Hans van der Mars, Missy Parker and Kevin Patton. Russ Pate of the University of South Carolina will present the “U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity in Children and Youth” while CDC Health Scientist Shannon Michael discusses the “Report on Secular Changes in Physical Education Attendance in the U.S.” and Christina Economos, associate professor, Tufts University, presents “Best Practices in School District-Wide Efforts to Promote Students’ Physical Activity.”
Want to see what other convention sessions you’d like to attend? Check out the preliminary program and schedule-at-a-glance chart! Then, head to the convention registration page to take advantage of $75 in early-bird savings!
Make Your Case
If you need help getting approval from your administrator to attend the event, use this Justification Toolkit, which includes:
Go Green to Save Green
This year, the convention will be “paper-light” and SHAPE America will make the world a little greener by using the mobile app to navigate convention sessions instead of producing a printed program.
Among the sponsors supporting the SHAPE America National Convention & Expo are Fuel Up to Play 60, Human Kinetics, KIDZ BOP, Life is Good Kids Foundation, New York Road Runners, Reebok and BOKS, Build our Kids’ Success, and Sportime featuring SPARK, a category of School Specialty, Inc.
For more information about SHAPE America’s National Convention & Expo, visit the website and follow #SHAPEBoston. The convention is held in partnership with SHAPE America Eastern District and the Massachusetts Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (MAHPERD).