Making the Case for Individualized Health-Related Fitness Education

By Wikgren, Scott | Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators, November-December 2010 | Go to article overview
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Making the Case for Individualized Health-Related Fitness Education

Wikgren, Scott, Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators


"In light of the epidemics of obesity and diabetes and other chronic diseases among children," NASPE executive director Charlene Burgeson said when announcing the National Standards for Physical Education in 2004, "there is an even stronger emphasis on physical education's contribution to good health. Physical education in all K-12 schools provides the foundation for healthy, active lifestyles that support learning and ensure future success."

To meet the mandate of high-quality physical education, physical educators need to individualize health-related fitness education to meet the needs of the learners. This can be extremely challenging, but with creative tools like Physical Best, Fitness for Life, and Fitnessgram[R], physical educators are becoming more like personal trainers than coaches--that is, they focus on activity and nutrition, which lead to good health and wellness. And in our society of sedentary spectators, physical educators need to emphasize actual participation in physical activity along with the principles of fitness, health, and wellness--all in an environment of shrinking school budgets and reduced time for physical education.

Playing games has always been a staple of physical education. However, most experts now agree that while playing age-appropriate games is important, the emphasis needs to be on building lifelong skills and attitudes.

High-quality fitness education blends the teaching of fitness concepts with appropriate activity so that students become informed consumers of information on physical activity, nutrition, and wellness and are ready to assume responsibility for their own health. A major tenet of high-quality physical education is that all students should be given the opportunity to participate in healthful activity and encouraged to make good health and physical activity lifelong habits.

Obviously, it's time for a creative solution--a solution that does not add any more strain to teachers' busy schedules but provides students with the content knowledge they need, opportunity for physical activity, and valid assessment to demonstrate to school administrators and the public that the program is effective at making children healthier. Fitness for Life, Physical Best, and Fitnessgram are resources that work together to do just that.

Fitness for Life provides a well-researched and articulated K-12 health-related fitness curriculum with award-winning student textbooks. Physical Best provides a sound pedagogical basis for teaching health-related fitness as well as activities that teach health-related fitness concepts through movement. Fitnessgram is a criterion-referenced health-related fitness assessment that provides individualized reports for students and parents as well reports for teachers, administrators, and researchers that help them analyze data schoolwide, districtwide, or statewide.

The following three pages examine these program resources in greater depth.

Data-driven educational tool with a personal touch

Education has become a data-driven environment: for the most part, this is a positive thing. The collection and analysis of data provide educators a wealth of information for making sound curricular and pedagogical decisions. Fitnessgram[R]. long considered the gold standard of physical fitness assessment, has just been released in a Web-based format that will greatly enhance its utility as a data collection and analysis tool.

Administrators can compare Fitnessgram data to other factors, including academic achievement and socioeconomic data, in order to make wide-reaching decisions. California, Texas, and New York City are just three examples of large research studies that looked at these factors using data from Fitnessgram.

One outcome of these and other studies has been to capture the attention of administrators who previously had not valued the importance of a high-quality physical education program.

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