Exercise as it relates to Disease/Physical education making kids more fit and healthy
This is an analysis of the journal article " 'Physical education makes you fit and healthy'. Physical education's contribution to young peoples physical activity levels" by Fairclough & Stratton (2004)
What is the background to this research?
It is understood that a physically active lifestyle promotes health and decreases the chances of developing diseases associated with physical inactivity such as obesity, coronary heart disease, diabetes and depression to name a few. In children, it has been observed that those who are more physically active achieve higher academic achievements, cooperate better with their peers and experience better psychological functioning. Additionally, study's suggest that an active lifestyle in childhood decreases health risks later on in life.
Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines recommend that youth aged 13–17 years should participate in at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. The school physical education curricula strives to engage students in physical activity with the hopes of making kids more fit and healthy as well as the promotion of regular participation in physical activity throughout their life. This study explored the type of activity and intensity at which students were engaging in PE classes and assessed whether classes were fulfilling guideline requirements. The aims a Fairclough & Stratton were to investigate whether PE had a sufficient effect on children's health and well being.
Where is the research from?
- Fairclough: REACH (Research into Exercise, Activity and Children's Health) Group, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK & School of Physical Education, Sport and Dance, Liverpool John Moores University,
- Stratton: REACH (Research into Exercise, Activity and Children's Health) Group, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK & Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
Each respected author has contributed work to numerous research articles relating to physical education in schools and its effects on child physical activity and health, published in respected journals such as The International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity and and The Journal of Preventable Medicine to name a few. The following study received ethical approval from the Liverpool John Moores Research Degrees Ethics Committee.
Data was collected in the Merseyside area of North-West England.
What kind of research was this?
This research used stage sampling in order to obtain data. This method insured that the sample group used in the study was a random sample of mixed genders, PE classes, ages and fitness ability. This way, the objective of the study (to assess physical activity levels during high school physical education lessons) was explored without bias.
What did the research involve?
122 students (62 male, 60 females) from 5 state high schools in years 7, 8 and 9 were randomly selected to take part. The students attended 2 weekly PE classes in single sex groups over a 12 week period and participated in a variety of group and individual activities.
|Team games||Football, hockey and softball|
|Individual games||Badminton, tennis and table tennis|
|Movement activities||Dance and gymnastics|
|Individual activities||Athletics, fitness and swimming|
The study involved monitoring individuals heart rates during PE sessions using short-range telemetry. Short-range telemetry is a system that traces physiological strain on the cardiovascular system and is a means understanding and interpreting frequency, duration and intensity of physical activity. It is a highly valid and reliable way to measure young peoples physical activity and has therefore been utilized extensively in many PE settings. Fairclough and Stratton calculated each subjects resting and maximum heart rate in order to assess what type of intensity each student would be working at during PE sessions. 50% between resting and maximum heart rate was considered moderate intensity and was the foreground for the decision on whether PE sessions proved to provide beneficial health benefits to students.
Limitations as understood by the authors highlighted that it was their intention to assess equal numbers of students during lessons in each four PE activity categories. Although this aim was unable to be met, due to school timetable restrictions and student absences. As a result, the number of boys and girls assessed in the different activities were not equal, which as a result could potentially make the findings less reliable.
What were the basic results?
Fairclough & Stratton found that the average duration of a PE class was 50.6 minutes. Within these classes they recorded moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and vigorous physical activity (VPA). Findings were as follows:
MVPA experienced during PE:
- 17.5 minutes per class on average
- 18.9 minutes, male classes
- 16.1 minutes, female classes
- 3.9 minutes per class on average
- Males engaged in VPA more than females
- 4% difference between the sexes
Furthermore, the most MVPA was during team games and students participating in movement activities engaged in the least MVPA.
A limitation was that there was a significant variance in data collected with high standard variations. This could be attributed to the different learning objectives in individual PE classes, environment and different teaching styles.
How did the researchers interpret the results
The researchers interpretation of the results was that "students only take part in health-enhancing activities for one-third of the recommended target" and that the limited frequency of PE classes in the school curricula and length of classes did not allow students to participate in sufficient MVPA or VPA. Furthermore, the limited duration of MVPA and VPA in classes did not allow for gains in cardiovascular fitness. In relation to males engaging in higher levels of MVPA and VPA, Fairclough & Stratton suggested that this was due to a combination of factors including different class structure and PE curricular for the sexes and different motivation and perception levels around PE.
In addition, it was stated that team games and individual activities promoted higher intensity activity, although while not contributing to cardiovascular fitness, movement activities incorperated flexibility, muscle strength and endurance training that was also fundamental in the PE curriculum.
Fairclough & Stratton concluded "PE may make a more significant contribution to young peoples regular physical activity partcipation if lessons are planned with MVPA goals in mind".
What conclusions can we take from this research?
Physical education in schools provide time for students to be physically active and develop positive, active lifestyle behaviors. It is obvious however, that the curricular time allocated towards physical education in schools is not meeting child physical activity guidelines especially when it comes to high intensity activities. Although school is considered to be an ideal setting for intervention programs that aim to promote physical activity to benefit health, children spend most of their physical activity outside of school. It is also apparent from this research that PE lessons should be more appropriately organised in order to target health guidelines for students and should be developed in a way that incorporates maximum time spent doing high intensity activities.
What are the implications of this research?
This research has shown that although physical education provides a time for students to engage in physical activity, parents and their children should not rely on PE as a satisfactory means of activity because recommendations can not be met through PE alone. Furthermore, heads of PE in schools need to understand physical activity guidelines and modify curricula and classes in order to maximize time spent engaged in high intensity cardiovascular exercise to benefit students health.
Further information and resources
For further information on the benfits and guidelines of physical activity in youth, click on the links below:
- Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behsviour Guidelines, Young People: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines/$File/FS-YPeople-13-17-Years.PDF
- The Department of Health, Physical Activity: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/phy-activity
- Make your move - sit less. Be active for life!: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/F01F92328EDADA5BCA257BF0001E720D/$File/brochure%20PA%20Guidelines_A5_13-17yrs.PDF
- Make a Difference at Your School: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/keystrategies/pdf/make-a-difference.pdf
- Fairclough, S., & Stratton, G. (2004) 'Physical education makes you fit and healthy'. Physical education's contribution to young peoples physical activity levels. Health Education Research, 20(1), 14-23. DOI: 10.1093/her/cyg101
- Ridgers, N., Stratton, G., & Fairclough, S. (2006) Physical activity levels of children during school playtime. Sports Medicine, 36(4), 359-371
- Trudeau, F., & Shephard, R. (2008) Physical education, school physical activity, school sports and academic performance. International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, (5)10. DOI: 10.1186/1479-5868-5-10
- Rey-Lopez, J., Vicente-Rodriguez, G., Biosca, M., & Moreno, L. (2008) Sedentary behaviour and obesity development in children and adolescents. Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, (18), 242-251. DOI: 10.1016/j.numecd.2007.07.008
- Tremblay, M., LeBlanc, A., Kho, M., Saunders, T., Larouche, R., Colley, R., Goldfield, G., & Gorber, S. (2011) Systematic review of sedentary behaviour and health indicators in school-aged children and youth. International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical activity, (8)98. DOI: 10.1186/1479-5868-8-98
- Australian Government. Department of Health. (2014). Fact Sheet. Young People (13-17 years) [Brochure]. Retrieved from: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines/$File/FS-YPeople-13-17-Years.PDF
- Australian Government. Department of Health (2015). Make your move - sit less. Be active for life! [Brochure]. Retrieved from: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/F01F92328EDADA5BCA257BF0001E720D/$File/brochure%20PA%20Guidelines_A5_13-17yrs.PDF
- Fairclough, S., Stratton, G., & Baldwin, G. (2002) The contribution of secondary school physical education to lifetime physical activity. European Physical Education, 8(1), 69-84. DOI: 10.1177/1356336X020081005
- Ridgers, N., Stratton, G., Fairclough, S., & Twisk, J. (2007) Children's physical activity levels during school recess: a quasi-experimental intervention study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 4(19), 1-9. DOI: 10.1186/1479-5868-4-19
- Ridgers, N., Stratton, G., & Fairclough, S. (2005) Assessing physical activity during recess using accelerometry. Preventative Medicine, 41, 102-107. DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.10.023
- Sallis, J., McKenzie, T., Alcaraz, J., Kolody, B., Faucette, N., & Hovell, F. (1997) The effects of a 2 year physical education program (SPARK) on physical activity and fitness in elementary school student. American Journal of Public Health, 87(8), 1328-1334.
- McKenzie, T., Marshall, S., Sallis, J., & Conway, T. (2000). Leisure-time physical activity in school environments: an observational study using SOPLAY. Preventative Medicine, 30, 70-77. DOI: 10.1006/pmed.1999.0591