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Supersizing Physical Activity May Boost Academic Performance Tara Schuessler 1, Regan A. R. Gurung 1, & Mikki Duran 2 University of Wisconsin, Green Bay.

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Presentation on theme: "Supersizing Physical Activity May Boost Academic Performance Tara Schuessler 1, Regan A. R. Gurung 1, & Mikki Duran 2 University of Wisconsin, Green Bay."— Presentation transcript:

1 Supersizing Physical Activity May Boost Academic Performance Tara Schuessler 1, Regan A. R. Gurung 1, & Mikki Duran 2 University of Wisconsin, Green Bay 1 & Appleton School District 2 INTRODUCTION METHOD ABSTRACT The Surgeon General reports that children are increasingly becoming at risk for health diseases because of the lack of good nutrition and physical education (1999). Therefore, we need to start addressing this problem more aggressively. Since children spend most of their time in school, school is an excellent place to start tackling the poor nutrition problems and the lack of physical education. This study was conducted to inform people about the importance of physical activity and education for students in the upper Midwest. We hope to encourage increased levels of physical education and better nutrition in many of the schools across Wisconsin, and consequently nationwide. Research has suggested that children who are more physically fit perform better academically (Dwyer, Sallis, Blizzard, Lazarus, & Dean, 2001). Given the poor health of many sections of the upper Midwest, we were interested in assessing a school in this region to see if there were any correlation between physical fitness scores and standardized test scores. These results could lead us to improved physical education and get our children educated about the importance of nutrition and physical education. The impetus for the current study, came from prior work conducted in a set of schools nationwide. In early 1990 a longitudinal study was conducted in schools across California, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas. This program implemented a PE program (Child and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health, CATCH PE), a food service program, cardiovascular health classroom curricula changes, a tobacco curriculum and a family/home component. The CATCH PE component specifically provided curriculum and materials, professional development (in-service) sessions, and on-site consultations with teachers in physical education classes. California’s Department of Education (CDE) released some key findings concluding that higher achievement is associated with higher levels of fitness. For example, results indicated that students who met minimum fitness levels in three or more physical fitness areas showed the greatest gains in academic achievement (CDE, 2004). This evidence has mandated 200 minutes of physical education for grades one through six and 400 minutes for grades seven through twelve every 10 school days. Recently an intervention program, Educating Healthy Kids Project, was conducted in Appleton, Wisconsin, based on the CATCH PE studies. This program also incorporated new PE testing, a food program, and a nutrition component. For the most part, this program hoped to make students healthier increasing the amount and quality of physical activity and nutrition education. The current study uses a portion of data collected in this study. We hypothesized that children with higher physical fitness scores would also have higher standardize test scores. Participants: The present analyses used 132 third and fifth grade students from Johnston Elementary school, in Appleton, Wisconsin (58% male, 42% female). Measures: Two measures were used in this study: the state standardized tests and the Fitnessgram. The Fitnessgram measures student’s physical activity based on health standards rather than national norms. It is made up of five components including cardiovascular (mile run, pacer), muscular strength (pull ups, push ups, curl ups), muscular endurance (flexed arm hang, push ups, curl ups), flexibility (trunk lift, sit & reach, shoulder stretch, and body composition (body mass index). From these five components the tests that were used initialed curl-ups, pacer, BMI, push-ups, and trunk lift. Table 1 contains the explanations of each of the tests used. Procedures: Data was collected over the years of but because of missing data, aggregated data, and technical difficulties only a portion of the data were usable. The data that we did use were the third and fifth grade physical education FITNESSGRAM scores from years and their corresponding standardized test data from either a year before their FITNESSGRAM scores or a year after. In other words we matched third grader’s FITNESSGRAM scores with their corresponding fourth grade standardize test scores and fifth grade FITNESSGRAM scores with their previous fourth grade standardize test scores. The state standardized tests scores included both a) a total score and b) individual scores for Math, Science, Reading, Language Arts, and Social Studies. In addition, we created a total fitness score by combining each of the fitness scales of the FITNESSGRAM (pacer, curl-ups, BMI, trunk lift, and push-ups). Total fitness scores were significantly correlated with total standardized test scores, p <.001. (See Graph 1) We also correlated each of the individual standardized test scores (Math, Science, Reading, Language Arts, and Social Studies) with each of the individual FITNESSGRAM scores (curl-ups, pacer, BMI, push-ups, and trunk lift) and found many significant correlations. (See Graph 2) The subcategories that revealed the most significant correlations were curl-ups with a significance value of p <.01 for all academic categories, and the pacer with significant values at three of the academic categories (Math, Reading, and Social Studies). No sex differences were found in fitness and academic scores or between academics and fitness within sex. These results reveal that fitness and academic achievement are positively related. However, we realize that there are many things can cause both good physical activity and academics. The most predominantly known is social economical status (SES). Further analyses of the longitudinal data will allow us to draw of causal conclusions. The current data support CATCH results and urge a greater focus on physical fitness in schools and its potential links to academic achievement. Presented at the 2005 American Psychological Society’s Annual Conference. Los Angeles, CA. for a copy. This project assessed the importance of physical activity and its association with academic performance. In the last number of years physical education in schools has become less of a priority. However, obesity has recently become a large problem in adults and children. Obesity is causing very severe health risks in our youth, especially for Type II diabetes. Does poorer health also hurt academic achievement? Past research has indicated that healthier children perform better academically. We hypnotized that those children who preformed better on physical education tests would perform better on standardized academic tests. We used portions of a multiyear Educating Healthy Kids study conducted in Appleton, Wisconsin, to test this hypothesis. Physical fitness, measured using the FITNESSGRAM, significantly correlated to some standardized test scores. Table 1: FITNESSGRAM Curl-ups –For the curl-up test, the students complete as many curl-ups as they can at a specified pace (maximum 75). The curl-up has been selected because it does not involve the assistance of the hip flexor muscles and minimizes compression in the spine, when compared to a full sit-up with the feet held. Trunk Lift—Students lie prone (face down) with their hands under their thighs. The student lifts the upper body off the floor in a slow, controlled movement to a maximum of 12 inches. Pacer—The Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run is a multistage fitness test adapted from the 20 meter shuttle run test. The test is progressive; it is easy at the beginning and gets harder each stage. Set to music, this test is a valid, fun alternative to the customary distance run test for measuring aerobic capacity. The PACER is recommended for all ages. Push-ups—The push-up to an elbow angle of 90 degrees is the recommended test for upper body strength and endurance. The PACER test CD contains a recorded cadence of 20 push-ups per minute (1 push- up every 3 seconds). The tests ends if a student: 1- stops to rest; 2-does not achieve a 90 degree angle with elbows on each rep; 3-does not maintain correct body position; 4-does not extend arms fully. INTRODUCTION RESULTS & DISCUSSION Exam Scores Graph 1: Correlation of Total Exam and Fitness Scores Graph 2: Correlating Individual Exam and Fitness Scores


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