Physical fitness - reality or a dream
: a study into the effects of physical fitness ; benefits for it, ways of measuring it and how unfit school children are today

  • Robert Arnold Heslin

    Student thesis: Other thesis - CDU


    The education system of Australian Schools appear to be in the midst of revolution. Too often we hear the cry "Back to Basics" and much public questioning of school curriculum and its direction. Consequently, greater emphasis has been placed on the academic side of education, and, more often than not, at the exclusion of physical education. The past decades has witnessed a growing concern that the schools are not achieving fundamental outcomes in physical education (Emmel:1979). This shift in educational philosophy is based on the premise that learning occurs in proportion to time involved in study. What has happened to the adage "Healthy body, healthy mind."?

    Non participation of students in good physical education programs is a growing concern to educators and researchers. Many are questioning the value of such overloaded, intellectual school program. They show concern over its validity in terms of what is known about healthy student growth and development patterns. Most of this concern was touched off by the discovery that children of some European countries scored higher on certain fitness tests than American and Australian children (Coonan:1979). In fact, a survey made in 1979 by the Australian Bureau pf Census and Statistics reported that:
    "12.4 percent of students lost one or more days in school due to illness or injury... In the two days before the interview 31.6 per cent of 5-14 year olds were taking some form of medication (20 percent of which had been prescribed) 26.9 percent of 5-14 year olds experienced chronic conditions which had lasted more than six months or they had permanent physical disabilities." (Australian Schoold Commission:1979:42)

    Research conducted by Dr Per Olof Astrand (1977:11) found that 45 percent of Americans are clinically unfit and of this, women are not as fit as men. Furthermore, teenagers and women in the age bracket 20 to 29 years are "rated the lowest:. He further states that most American children are unfit.

    "In a 10 year longitudinal study of school children it was found that cardiovascular fitness declines steadily from the age of 8 stabilizing at a very low level, only in late adolescence." (Astrand:1977:p11)
    No evidence from Australian studies yet undertaken has refuted this assertion.

    Further research indicates a picture of obesity in South Australian School children (500 10 year olds were surveyed and concluded that:

    "... an excessive number of students, particularly girls, are obese whilst many more have unnecessarily high percentage of body fat." (Coonan:1979: in :The organisation of Daily Physical Education in the Primary School:1981?.

    Reason for this decline can be two fold: Firstly, our life style has become more sedentary, and secondly, physical fitness, as part from sport's coaching, is not being taught in Australian schools. Labour saving devices, reliance on the motor car, the emergence of large shopping centres, are a few changes that have contributed to an increase in family leisure time. Unfortunately, much of this leisure time is taken up in T.V. viewing, spectator sports and other inactive pastimes (S.A. :Organisation of Daily Physical Educatin:1981). Where children are deprived of opportunities to exercise or participate in organised community sports in their family setting, the school should be providing a healthy environment where physical activity is encouraged.

    Date of Award1983
    Original languageEnglish

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