Physical Fitness Research Proposal for Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

This difficulty is further intensified by the inherently complicated task of clearly explicating the purpose, process and findings which have produced the resolutions of a qualitative study. The personalized quality of this research mode places a considerable imperative in the hands of the research composer to create both the research framework and a sensible delivery of results. The undertaking of qualitative analysis often requires the researcher to adapt personal or institutional guidelines as the guarantor of validity, directed by an interest in scientific or social illumination. This means that it will be primarily up to the researcher to establish a context that can be logically communicated to others.

In spite of its inherent challenges, the qualitative approach is frequently favored as the only way to yield the outcomes which are related to its modes of data collection. To this extent, it is important to note that most essentially, "the two different approaches relate. . . To different types of research question -- and the 'results' produced by the two types of analysis look very different." (Silverman, 183) This is to say that where it is necessary to answer research questions of a complex and nuanced nature, it may not be effective to apply numerical gathering and evaluation methods which intentionally remove human subjectivity from the process. Particularly, where findings and analysis are desired as fully verbal and explanatory in nature, data will necessarily reflect this expressive medium.

This applies directly to the nature of study. The research here will consider the public school a front line in the fight against obesity where pre-adolescents and adolescents are concerned and a crucial partner in the construction of an intervention in the negative health behaviors contributing to obesity. This is because the public school represents an educational first for our youth, where individuals begin their first forays into understanding our shared cultural values. Physical education, unfortunately, has been a value not shared by all in recent years. Indeed, "gym is often the first class cut when budgets get tight. Last year only 30% of high-school students had a daily gym class. And many elementary and middle schoolers have gym only once a week if at all. 'We need to convince parents and school boards that PE has evolved,' says Judy Young, who heads the National Association for Sports & Physical Education, the professional organization for gym teachers. 'It can be a valuable part of a child's development. With rising rates of obesity, it can also save their lives.'" (Tyre, 2)

Evidence proceeding from our research also denotes that daily physical activity can especially benefit youths who are contextualized by organized settings. Christodolous (2006) finds that "children who reported less than 30 minutes of daily participation in physical activity demonstrated lower prevalence rates for overweight and obesity as well as superior fitness performance. The detrimental effect of the summer break on the progress of physical fitness was less in children who did participate in physical activity than in those who did not." (Christodolous, 199)

Assessment of Target Population:

The target population is defined by its pre-adolescent and adolescent age and such health indicators as lifestyle, diet and exercise given the need for early intervention with adulthood obesity. A negative pattern of budgetary prioritization with respect to youth physical education has unfortunately coincided with a broad populace propensity toward after-school activities such as web-surfing and taking in hours of evening television. Evidence suggests that these two cultural realities have interceded to endanger the health of Americans at a young age. Accordingly, Blair & Church (2004) report that "declines in average daily energy expenditure are a likely underlying cause of the obesity." (Blair & Church, 1232) This connection between obesity and a lack of physical activity is central to our study, which would also find a connection between physical health and lesser sedentary activity. According to the study by Tucker (1986) "light TV viewers scored significantly better than heavy viewers in a composite fitness index and on pushups, pullups, sidestep, situps, and jog-walk considered individually." (Tucker, 797)

Unfortunately, there is a general lack of sufficient physical education programs in the total amount of time which children spend engaging in any type of athletic activity at all. According to a nationwide study released by the Department of Human Health Services, it was determined that in 2003, "33.4% of students had not participated in sufficient vigorous physical activity and had not participated in sufficient moderate physical activity during the 7 days preceding the survey." (DHHS, 23) This is accompanied by some troubling imbalances which may also suggest something about our cultural make-up, in that those who are thus characterized as participating in a sufficient amount of physical activity are heavily imbalanced with a troubling 40.1% of women outweighing the 26.9% of men who fit into this category. This will also point to the decision in our research to focus on the needs of sedentary women in addition to those of preadolescents. Either number is demonstrable of an ingrained tendency toward negative health behaviors such as inactivity. It is therefore crucial that greater endowments of funding be distributed across all levels of governance. There is a particular importance in an increase in federal funding toward the institution of physical education as a stronger cornerstone in the edifice of the educational system. Contrary to only a decade ago, when such numbers were considerably higher, in 2003, "Nationwide, 28.4% of students went to PE classes 5 days in an average week when they were in school." (DHHS, 23) With greater federal funding, there could be greater assurance that communities and schools which are represented by lower tax brackets are not given the short-shrift in availability of such programs and competent instructors therein.

The Obama Administration has taken steps though to battle widespread public obesity by focusing on the young and on the school context. Frommer (2010) reports that "the administration will upgrade the council's Physical Fitness Challenge, she said, and give awards to kids who engage in physical activity five days a week for six weeks. Besides getting kids to exercise, Michelle Obama's campaign aims to help parents and schools make better food choices and make healthy food more available and affordable." (Frommer, 1)

This latter point is also an important connection to make between physical activity and nutritional health. Indeed, just as greater focus is needed in terms of organized physical engagement, the same is needed for a greater inclusion of high-quality and comprehensive School Nutrition and Food Services. It may be easier for those with political agendas which diverge from the funding of better nutritional education to assess that such education is intended to be initiated by parents. And of course, as the above discussion on the organized sports intervention recognizes, the endorsement and example provided by parents can be absolutely irreplaceable. However, there is a clear relationship between good nutritional values and the numerous responsibilities which fall upon a school. The Centers for Disease Control has contended that "healthy eating patterns in childhood and adolescence promote optimal childhood health, growth, and intellectual development; prevent immediate health problems, such as iron deficiency anemia, obesity, eating disorders, and dental caries; and may prevent long-term health problems, such as coronary heart disease, cancer, and stroke." (CDC, 1)

As noted above, the greatest challenges to improvement of the target populations are both cultural and practical. There is a need for a greater emphasis on healthy diet and exercise in American youth culture, which does not show the needed drive to remain fit and healthy. Additionally, the political will and economic resource committed through our schools must demonstrate that this is an important and prized social value. Obstructions exist in the way that commercial, cultural and political misappropriate seem to mutually reinforce one another. Funding must create campaigns that permeate public education and refine the presentation of the importance of nutrition and exercise.

Ultimately, evaluation of the research intervention would be conducted in a number of qualitative forms, to be implemented at the 1 month, 6-month and 1 year marks following the initiation of the process described here above. Using interview with subjects in an open ended form, as well as drawing on various health indicators such as weight, Body Mass Index, blood pressure and cholesterol, we can begin to draw certain correlations between the features of the intervention, the individual experiences reported by the subjects and some measurable health outcomes.

Works Cited:

Blair, S.N. & Church. (2004). The Fitness, Obesity, and Health Equation: Is Physical

Activity the Common Denominator? The Journal of the American Medical Association,

292(10), 1232-1234.

Caspersen, C.J.; Powell, K.E. & Christenson, G.M. (1985). Physical activity, exercise, and physical fitness: definitions and distinctions for health-related research. Public Health Report, 100(2), 126-131.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2007). Heart Disease. Department of Health and Human Services. Online at

Christodoulos, A.D. (2006). Obesity and physical fitness of…

Online Sources Used in Document:

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