A Checklist to Promote Physical Activity and Fitness in K-12 Physical Education Programs: How Many of These Strategies Do You Use?

Article excerpt

It has become evident in recent years that many youths are not getting enough daily physical activity (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 2004). This lack of physical activity has been cited as a major factor in the increase of health-related problems among youths, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity (Kerner, 2005). The availability of technology such as cable television, the Internet, and interactive electronic games is believed by many to be a contributing factor to a sedentary lifestyle because children are spending their leisure time interacting with those devices rather than running, riding their bike, or playing sports (Sherman, 2000). It has also been pointed out that schools now require less physical education because of an increased pressure to improve scores in other school subjects (Maeda & Murata, 2004). This is unfortunate, because physical education has the potential to empower children with skills that they will need in order to enjoy the benefits of regular physical activity for the rest of their life (Pangrazi, 2007).

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In order to ensure that children will become more physically active and fit, those who teach physical education should use a variety of strategies that will encourage students of all ability levels to participate fully in physical education classes and to engage in an active lifestyle outside of class (National Association for Sport and Physical Education [NASPE], 2004). The national physical education standards three and four read as follows:

Standard 3: Participates regularly in physical activity.

Standard 4: Achieves and maintains a health-enhancing level of physical fitness. (NASPE, 2004, p. 11)

In order to create an environment that is conducive to helping students make progress in standards three and four, teachers should employ a number of proactive strategies to encourage student activity both during school and during nonschool hours (Johnson & Deshplande, 2000).

The Checklist

Given the importance of promoting student physical activity and fitness, K-12 physical educators should examine the degree to which their program is directly addressing standards three and four and create plans to enhance underdeveloped parts of the program. The Physical Activity and Fitness Promotion Checklist was created for this purpose.

The Physical Activity and Fitness Promotion Checklist (figure 1) was initially developed by generating items from the fitness literature and then getting input from a panel of four experts. The panel members averaged over 25 years of physical education teaching experience, and each had been recognized as a state physical education teacher-of-the-year at either the elementary, middle, or high school level. The checklist was then field tested with 30 physical education teachers, who evaluated it for content validity and clarity. All 20 items were deemed appropriate by over 90 percent of the 30 teachers. For each item, a five-point Likert-style scale was utilized for responses. The five-point scale was patterned after the stages of change (SOC) model, as applied to exercise behavior (Ciccomascolo & Riebe, 2006; Prochaska & Marcus, 1994). This model suggests that individuals change behaviors, such as smoking or a sedentary lifestyle, by moving through a series of stages that represent their readiness to change. It comrprises a five-stage process of behavioral change: (1) precontemplation, (2) contemplation, (3) preparation, (4) action, and (5) maintenance. The SOC model has been used to promote physical activity, based on the supposition that people must move through the early stages, where motivation and commitment are developed, before taking action and changing their behavior (Nahas, Goldfine, & Collins, 2003). Consequently, the corresponding five-point Likert scale used in the checklist (1 = Not discussed, 2 = Discussed, 3 = Planned, 4 = Partially implemented, and 5 = Fully implemented) was developed to allow physical education programs to follow a similar path to increased physical activity as individuals in the SOC model. …