Why Is Gym Important in Middle School?

Teaching students to exercise and have proper hygiene can enhance their success in adult life.
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Middle school students need proper support to endure a life transition. No longer children in need of constant watch, middle school students enter puberty and a new level of academic demands all at once when they hit age 11 or 12. Gym can be a powerful tool in teaching students confidence, sportsmanship and self-care. Because middle school gym classes cover a variety of activities from health education to team sports, these classes offer life skills and principles to students at a vulnerable and impressionable age.

1 Confidence, Collaboration and Community

Gym class builds confidence in middle school students. Because gym involves a variety of activities, from flag football to ping pong, it gives students a way to find their talents and skills. One student might be a strong basketball player, while others might be great at running sprints or doing pull-ups. Team sports give students a chance to learn the value of different skills and abilities. In soccer, for instance, a fullback will need different strengths than a wing or a forward. These types of concepts will help a middle school student understand the value of collaboration and community, which are values that will benefit each student for life. When it's time to begin choosing extracurricular activities in high school, students who participated in gym class will already have a sense of their interests and talents.

2 Health

The moderate exercise required in gym class helps students stay healthy. Most of the school day is spent sitting in chairs, so an hour of physical activity each school day allows students to move and therefore burn calories, build muscle and work out stress. Gym classes sometimes involve learning about important health topics like nutrition, STDs, drugs and personal hygiene. Middle school students are particularly susceptible to peer pressure, and they need to have a solid understanding of health-related topics before they approach the teenage years of driving, independence, and more unmonitored social activity.

3 Sportsmanship

Gym class teaches middle school students sportsmanship, something they'll need to understand as they enter a more competitive atmosphere in high school. Sportsmanship involves fair play, following the rules of a sport or game and treating opponents, referees and coaches with respect. For a middle school student between the ages of 11 and 14, these are all crucial values to learn before entering the competitive environment of high school, where they'll be faced with competitive sports and college admissions.

4 Healthy Habits

Gym class establishes healthy habits in young people. Psychologytoday.com explains that middle school is a period of time where students are transitioning from coddled children to independent young adults. Gym plays a large role in teaching students the importance of self-care. Even though adult life involves obligations to others every day, physical fitness and health involves a duty to the self. Middle school is a crucial time period for vulnerable students to learn that self-care is more important than social relationships, pleasing others, or even grades. Health affects everything, and the earlier students learn to prioritize it, the more successful they will be.

Jan Archer holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a master's degree in creative writing. Roth has written trade books for Books-a-Million and has published articles on green living, wellness and education topics. She taught business writing, literature, creative writing and English composition at the college level for five years.