Physical Fitness in Children the Effects of essay

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Physical Fitness in Children

The effects of a 2-minute jog 3 times per week on 20 meter shuttle run scores in elementary age students

The connection between physical activity, proper diet and nutrition, and a growing trend towards children who are overweight is well established. Obesity in children leads to the development of diseases that were once thought to only affect adults. When diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease began in childhood it is often a precursor to the continuation and worsening of these diseases as an adult. Schools can play an important role in preventing or stopping the progress of lifelong illness by providing an atmosphere that promotes physical well-being and that teaches and instills the basics of a healthy lifestyle. At present, research as to what is the best approach remains controversial. The proposed research will explore the effects of one intervention technique in its ability to improve physical fitness scores among elementary students.


Physical activities in the schools are designed to reinforce patterns associated with a healthy lifestyle. Several factors are recognized as necessary in regards to policies that promote increased physical activity among students. These factors include daily physical activity and physical education, extracurricular physical activity programs, proper training of activity leaders, active transportation to and from school, adequate facilities to house the program, and community outreach (Lagarde & LeBlanc, 2010). Studies in areas unrelated to physical fitness have found that increasing the available options increases consumption and participation. For instance, increasing food choices led to increases in food consumption. Increasing the number purchasing options increases purchases in adults. It was found that altering the variety of exercise options increased exercise participation as well. (Barkley, Ryan, & Bellar et al.). The ability to provide all of these essential elements has been a popular topic among academic researchers.

Research in the area of physical fitness among youth contains several basic tenets that are widely accepted and supported by numerous research studies. It is an established tenant that obesity among children is on the rise. Obesity among children is accepted as a precursor to adult lifestyle patterns that can lead to disability or a shortened life span. Obesity among children is a drain on an already taxed medical system and costs the American public billions of dollars to care for these children. These expenses are further multiplied when one considers the expenses that they will incur as adults due to illnesses that could have been prevented. It is recognized that lifestyle changes that include a healthy diet and physical activity play a key role in preventing the development of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and the complications of these diseases. The goal of current research efforts is to discover the best means to promote health and physical fitness among school age children so that they can lead a healthy, happy, and productive life.

Summary of Literature

Research on the problem of obesity in children has been well funded by academic community, private organizations, and the government. It is recognized that this is a high priority research topic with significant consequences for the future of the nation. Research in this area has progressed from the general knowledge that a problem exists and the consequences associated with childhood obesity to specific ways to address the issue. At present, research focuses on specific methods and interventions that will have the greatest impact on preventing childhood obesity and diminished physical fitness. This research will add to the body of knowledge in this area.

Problem Statement

The 20 meter shuttle run to be used in this study is part of the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. National figures on pass and failure rates for this test could not be located, but it is estimated that due to the high percentage of obese children in the United States, the numbers of those that could not pass the test are high. This research will address the problem of whether adding a 2-minute jog, three times a week to the physical fitness program of elementary children will increase their performance on 20 meter shuttle run scores as a means of measuring physical fitness.

Literature Review

Literature on childhood obesity and physical fitness is abundant. Primary sources of information include government reports, clinical trials, and academic journals. These sources agree on the severity of the problem and the need to find solutions. Sources agree on the effects of obesity in children, but they do not agree on what represents the best solution to the problem. Furthermore, sources do not agree on what represents the most accurate measurement method for establishing levels of physical fitness in children and adolescents. This literature review will examine academic studies that related to interventions associated with increased physical fitness, as well as topics specific to this academic study

Physical Fitness and Bone Density

In the past, children and adolescents were treated the same as adults in terms of exercise and physical fitness regimes. We now know that the growing bodies of children and adolescents are different and that they require different treatment at different stages in their growth. Medical evidence suggests that physical activity increases bone density. It is not known if increased bone density in children prevents the development of osteoporosis in later life, but it is known that it prevents the development of osteoporosis in children. Increased bone density sets children up for an active and healthy lifestyle.

Osteoporosis was once thought to only be a disease of old age, but it is being increasingly accepted that osteoporosis is also a pediatric issue. Physical activity promotes the development of strong bones and it is been found that it is not necessary to perform high amounts of exercise, to obtain the maximum bone density. Activity should be continued through the entirety of the pre-pubertal growth years (Vicente-Rodriguez, 2006).

Resistance training has found to be effective for increasing bone development in children. However, the impact of age and maturity on trainability of muscle strength remains poorly understood. It was found that the ability to gain muscular strength increases with age and maturational status, but that it does not exhibit a boost during puberty. The duration and number of performed sets were found to have an affect on the outcome of the training (Behringer, Vom Heede, & Yue et al., 2010). Prepubescent children receive the most benefit from daily physical activity and physical loading from activities such as jump rope and strength training. Increases in bone density among children who were involved in these activities demonstrated no gender-based differences (Meyer, Romann, & Zahner et al., 2011).

Anaerobic Capacity

Oxygen consumption rate is one of the oldest measures of cardiorespiratory fitness and performance. Low anaerobic performance is often associated with a sedentary lifestyle, which is associated with the development of obesity and the development of Type 2 diabetes. Methods for teaching students to monitor their own oxygen consumption rate were met with positive results (Tarnus, Catan, & Verkindt, 2011).

Gender differences were found to be a factor in anaerobic endurance. Men achieved significantly higher performance indices on anaerobic endurance tests than women. These differences were attributed to lower muscle mass in women. All of the subjects in this test were untrained. The test took place over multiple trials. The differences became more pronounced in each successive trial (Sienkiewicz-Dianzenza, Tomaszewski, & Iwa-skaet al.,2009).

In addition to gender differences, physical illness or specific disabilities can also have a negative affect on anaerobic endurance. In a progressive respiratory test on children with cerebral palsy it was found that they experienced significantly lower aerobic capacity than normally developing children in the same age category (Verschuren & Takken, 2010).

Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) affects a children's coordination and ability to participate in activities (Rivilis, Hay, & Cariney et al., 2011). Physical activities are essential for the proper development of fitness and overall health. In the course of daily activity Most children engage in running, walking, jumping and other physical activities. However, when children find these activities challenging due to a disability, negative associations between body composition, cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle strength, endurance, anaerobic capacity, power, and overall physical activity were found (Rivilis, Hay, & Cariney et al., 2011). In addition, the study found that it was more difficult to measure fitness levels in children who suffered from DCD as they were not able to perform the motor functions necessary for the test.

Development and Physical Fitness

The physical fitness needs of children are not the same as those of adults. Growth and development significantly affects the results of physical fitness activities. Factors such as growth hormones and other factors work together to increase bone size and muscle size. Cardio respiratory endurance is defined as the ability of the body to sustain a rhythmic exercise for an extended period of time. This is also referred to as aerobic capacity. Aerobic capacity is directly related to the efficiency of the respiratory and cardiopulmonary systems (Fisher, 2009). Fitness levels among children are generally lower than those of adults,…[continue]

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