Fit for Hire - a Model for Promoting the Health and Fitness of Physical Education Students
Krause, Jerry V., Melville, D. Scott, JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance
This article describes a model of procedures adopted by the Physical Education, Health and Recreation Department at Eastern Washington University to help students develop fit lifestyles and plan for their future wellness.
Recent data on the health and fitness practices of today's physical educators are unimpressive. One survey revealed that almost one-half (47%) of the physical education instructors who responded were not engaged in a personal cardiorespiratory fitness program (Whitley, Sage, & Butcher, 1988). In another study, 52 percent of physical educators reported doing three or more muscular fitness activities on a regular basis, 57 percent considered themselves overweight, and over 31 percent consumed two or more high-fat snacks daily (Brandon & Evans, 1988).
While little can be done to improve the habits of those in the field, physical education professional programs can help the long-term situation by graduating future teachers who have already adopted fit lifestyles and formulated lifetime wellness goals. For this to happen, colleges and universities must take an active helping role. We cannot assume that all individuals choosing physical education as their profession will naturally have good health and exercise habits. Nor can we count on the cognitive knowledges those students acquire in their professional courses to instill good habits.
What follows is a model of procedures adopted by the Physical Education, Health and Recreation Department at Eastern Washington University to help students develop fit lifestyles and plan for their future wellness.
Each quarter, the department offers a survey course entitled Orientation to Physical Education. In that course, the Lifestyle Assessment Questionnaire (LAQ), developed by the National Wellness Institute (1988), is administered. The LAQ is an educational tool which assesses the status of present lifestyle factors and provides analysis designed to improve one's choices.
During the third week of the course the AAHPERD (1988) Physical Best fitness test is administered. This test was selected for several reasons:
1. It focuses on the health-related components of physical fitness, and is congruent with both the department's wellness philosophy goals and with the National Council on Accreditation for Teacher Education guidelines which require student assessment in these areas.
2. It can be readily administered and given frequently to large groups of students. Students can also self-administer the test, an important attribute in light of our emphasis on a "lifestyle" approach to fitness assessment.
3. Since students are advised to adopt the Physical Best test in their teaching, they should perform the test before requiring others to do so. This should deepen their understanding of the procedures and criteria, and increase the possibility of them taking the test with their students in the future.
Within two weeks of completing the fitness test, sign-up sheets are distributed in class for each student to make a 30-minute appointment with one of two Fit For Hire advisors. Students do not receive a course grade until they have met with an advisor. The two advisors, one male and one female, are faculty who are especially interested in the program and who are convinced of the importance of role modeling. They exemplify good wellness practices and excellent levels of fitness in all components. The students are provided with a model with whom they can most easily identify and relate. We want them to be able to comfortably discuss personal issues such as body composition, drinking behaviors, and life goals. Although we have not seen a propensity for students to choose a same sex advisor, we believe that it is important to keep this option open to them.
The initial advising session begins with an explanation of the purpose of the Fit For Hire process. Students receive a copy of the department's philosophy statement which explains what wellness is and why individuals need it. …