PLT4M hosted an essay contest for students across the country. Check out the full prompt here.
We asked students: In less than 750 words, you have to convince ‘Sedentary Industries’ that physical education is important to you. Why does physical activity and fitness matter to you?
We received hundreds of submissions and are now down to the finalists.
Congrats to Alma Jones from Jordan High School in Utah for being a finalist!
Dear ‘Sedentary Industries’ ,
Regarding the recent headquarters being built in Sandy, and the policies you wish to enact about the removal of physical activity and fitness from the high school experience. I would briefly like to cover why that may be a bad idea on your part, and the negative implications it may impose on the students. Throughout this letter, I’m going to be discussing the direct impact physical activity has on brain function and how it governs the retention of knowledge.
SCIENCE AND RESEARCH
Physical activity has many positive impacts on the brain and how it functions. A study from the California Department of Education has shown that students with higher fitness scores consequently have higher test scores. This is because exercise primes the brain to learn quicker. Another study was also done that showed that students who did HIIT (high-intensity interval training) prior to learning vocabulary could do so 20% quicker than the other sedentary students.
Now let’s talk about something called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (aka BDNF). BDNF is a protein in the brain. In order for us to learn, the brain needs to modify its cellular infrastructure to allow the firing of neurons to happen more easily. BDNF itself stimulates neuron growth, and how well they function, not to mention it helps strengthen neurons to protect against the process of cell death. Why am I talking about this, you may ask? BDNF is released through exercise and movement. It is the link between the brain and the body. To simplify, more exercise means more BDNF, more BDNF means better performance in school.
The Lives of our ancestors compared to our modern era, were much different than life today. When our ancestors were subjected to physical activity, it was merely for the sake of survival. Movement stimulates that something important is happening, and survival was extremely important. When we’re sedentary, it’s signaling to our bodies that we’re safe and that nothing important is happening. Sitting in a classroom all day without physical activity signals our bodies that nothing important is happening, therefore, there’s no need to retain information.
Removing physical education from high school may be the last thing you may want to do if you have the students best interest at heart. Doing so would be a huge disservice to high schoolers now, and highschoolers to come. The removal of physical activity WILL HINDER the development of the students, and I strongly urge you to reconsider your stance on this situation. I believe you guys will do the right thing.