Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Physical Fitness and Academic Achievement of Elementary School Students: A Cross-Sectional Survey in Southern Taiwan

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Physical Fitness and Academic Achievement of Elementary School Students: A Cross-Sectional Survey in Southern Taiwan

Article excerpt

ntroduction

Physical fitness (PF) is associated with various health benefits. Lack of physical activity is a risk factor for global death and disability. A sedentary lifestyle can increase the death rate and cause obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (Healthy People, 2010). Empirical studies on students' health have proved that the lack of physical activity and physical fitness not only affects mental development (Kantomaa, Tammelin, Ebeling & Taanila, 2008; Koivukangas et al., 2010; Roick et al., 2007), but also triggers chronic diseases like obesity and cardiovascular diseases due to insufficient activity (Andersen et al., 2006; Biddle, Gorely & Stensel, 2004). Sallis (2010), Roberts et al. (2009) and Van Dusen et al. (2011) pointed out that many schools sacrificed students' health by abandoning physical education (PE) courses in order to improve overall academic achievement. The same situation was found in Taiwan. In order to clarify the associations between physical fitness and academic achievement, researchers have aggressively investigated the relationship between physical fitness and students' academic achievement.

Despite different assessment methods and tools, their findings indicated that students' physical fitness and academic achievement were positively correlated, and thus pushed the society to pay more attention to the importance of students' physical activity (Coe et al., 2006; Kim et al., 2003; Roberts et al., 2009; Sallis et al., 1999; Sigfusdottir, Kristjansson & Allegrante, 2007). In a study on 7,961 Australian children aged at 7-15, Dwyer et al. (2001) classified them into different groups by age, gender and physical activity test. The results showed that the academic achievement of students who exercised usually was positively correlated. Similar findings were found in a study conducted by Chomitz et al. (2009) on lifestyle and academic achievement of 3,900 fourth to eighth graders in the UK. Fox et al. (2010) studied on the effect of physical activity and sports involvement on academic achievement of 4,746 junior and senior high school students found that the more physical activity and regular exercise, the better the academic achievement.

As there had been very few studies investigating the associations between physical fitness and academic achievement in Taiwan, we investigated this issue on students of different grades and gender from a public elementary school in southern Taiwan, with an aim to find out if cultural differences played a part in students' physical fitness and academic achievement by comparing the research findings of worldwide studies on the same topic and thereby to urge the relevant authorities of Taiwan to pay more attention to promoting students' physical fitness.

Methods

Participants

Containing total of 1,339 fourth to sixth graders of a public elementary school in southern Taiwan were selected for the study, including 676 boys and 663 girls. After eliminating those who were physically ill, who were children with special needs, and those whose parents did not consent to their participation, the exact number was 1,335. All questionnaires distributed were recovered and 1,065 copies (79.8%) (528 from boys and 537 from girls) were valid.

Research Instruments

Basic Student Information

Information on gender, age, grade, health condition, body height and weight were collected.

Physical Fitness Test

The physical fitness test items were based on the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) specified in the Health and Physical Education Syllabus for the Grade 1-9 Curriculum Guidelines announced by the Taiwan Ministry of Education. The test-retest validity (.60 to .75) and reliability (.62 to .90) coefficients were established for the assessment used in the study. These items included (1) body mass index (BMI): students were instructed to remove their shoes for the measurement. Data for weight and height were recorded in kilograms (mass) and meters (height); (2) flexibility (sit and reach test): students sat with shoes removed and legs extended with feet shoulder -width apart, against a specially constructed box. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.