The purpose of this historical overview of physical activity is to offer an analysis of the history of physical activity programs designed by American teachers and to review the findings of recent studies that have evaluated the long-term effects of physical activity on children’s cognitive functioning.
In the process of reviewing these studies, we hope that our review of the history of physical activity programs will also help to provide an understanding of the benefits and risks of these programs as well as a more comprehensive understanding of the many ways in which children can benefit from these programs. As such, this article provides an overview of the history of physical activities programs, including their definition, development in the United States, and the most recent research results and their implications for child development.
When physical activity programs were first developed in the U.S., they were primarily designed to promote health. The National Child Health Association (NCHEA) created the Physical Activity Guidelines to ensure that children are physically active enough to foster good health. The Guidelines require physical activities to be fun, stimulating, and age-appropriate and encourage children to participate in these activities to meet their basic physical needs.
As research continued to show the benefits of physical activity programs for children, many schools began implementing these programs. However, physical activity programs were not limited to public schools but were used in private schools, churches, community centers, and homes. The history of physical activity programs in this country has been relatively short and is also characterized by significant shifts in emphasis from promoting physical activity to promoting fitness.
Although there are many different types of physical activity programs, one of the most prominent physical activity programs is sports and recreational activities. Although physical activity programs’ original intent was to promote health, some physical activities, such as athletics, are considered therapeutic and have been replaced with more socially acceptable activities. Some physical activities, such as swimming, are still beneficial and have improved cognitive and behavioral health.
Studies on the long-term benefits of physical activity programs for children have focused on educational benefits. Recent studies, particularly those that have focused on the effects of physical activity programs on children’s academic performance, have found that children who participate in physical activity programs in school perform better than their peers in reading, math, science, and technology arts. As such, physical activity programs can improve children’s performance in school and help them achieve academic success later in life.
With this historical overview, we hope that it has provided readers with an insight into the historical background of physical activity programs in the U.S and how they have changed over the years. As a society, we look forward to physical activity programs to foster a healthier future for children and enhance their quality of life and development.