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Physical Education and Sport in Schools: A Review of Benefits and Outcomes by Richard Bailey, 2006, American School Health AssociationAdvocates of physical education and sport (PES) have listed numerous benefits associated with participation in these activities.
For example, Talbot claims that physical
education helps children to develop respect for the body—their own and others’, contributes toward the integrated development of mind and body, develops an understanding of the role of aerobic and anaerobic physical activity in health, positively enhances self-confidence and self-esteem, and enhances social and cognitive development and academic achievement.
Writing specifically about sport, a Council of Europe report suggests that it provides
opportunities to meet and communicate with other people, to take different social roles, to learn particular social skills (such as tolerance and respect for others), and
to adjust to team/collective objectives (such as cooperation and cohesion), and that it provides experience of emotions that are not available in the rest of life.
This report goes on to stress the important contribution of sport to processes of personality development and psychological well-being, stating that there is, ‘‘strong evidence of the positive effects of physical activities on self-concept, self-esteem, anxiety, depression, tension and stress, self-confidence, energy, mood, efficiency and well-being.’’
Findings suggest that the outcomes of PES can be understood in terms of children’s development in 5 domains:
PES in school is the main societal institution for the development of physical skills and the provision of physical activity in children and young people. For many children, school is the main environment for being physically active, through either PES programs or after-school activities.
There is evidence that for a growing number of children, school provides the main opportunity for regular, structured physical activity as a combination of economic pressures and parental concerns for safety, means that fewer children are able to play games in nonschool settings. Moreover, school-based PES offers a regulated opportunity for usually qualified, accountable teachers to introduce physical activities and lifestyle skills and knowledge in a structured way to all children, within a safe and supportive environment.
There is now fairly consistent evidence that regular activity can have a positive effect upon the psychological well-being of children and young people, although the underlying mechanisms for explaining these effects are still unclear.
The evidence is particularly strong with regards to children’s self-esteem. Other associations with regular activity that have been reported include reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. All of these lend support to the claim that well-planned and presented PES can contribute to the improvement of psychological health in young people. One especially relevant set of findings, in this regard, relates to the development of perceived physical competence.
It has been suggested that self-esteem is influenced by an individual’s perceptions of competence or adequacy to achieve, and that it is also worth considering the growing
interest in the relationship between PES and students’ general attitudes toward school.
Clearly, PES have the potential to make significant contributions to the education and development of children and young people in many ways.