The general definition of physical fitness is “a set of attributes that people have or achieve relating to their ability to perform physical activity” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [USDHHS], 1996). The two types of physical fitness most identified are health-related physical fitness and skill-related physical fitness. Health-related physical fitness relates to functional health. It is believed that all students can improve their health status through daily physical activity. It is one of the few areas where all students can succeed regardless of ability levels and genetic limitations. On the other hand, skillrelated physical fitness refers to physical performance related to athletic ability.
It is performance oriented and influenced by genetic traits and abilities. Health-related Physical Fitness – The four components of health-related fitness are cardiovascular endurance, body composition, flexibility, and muscular strength and endurance. • Cardiovascular endurance is the ability of the heart, blood vessels, and respiratory system to work efficiently delivering oxygen to the muscles for an extended period of time. Walking, jogging, biking, rope jumping, aerobics, and swimming are examples.
Body Composition is the proportion of body fat to lean body mass. Typically, activities that help to develop cardiovascular endurance also help to improve body composition. Flexibility is the range of motion through which a joint or sequence of joints can move. The length of muscles, tendons, and ligaments can be increased through stretching. Muscular strength and endurance – Muscular strength is the ability of muscles to exert force (contract). Muscular endurance is the ability to exert force over an extended period (contract repeatedly). Endurance postpones the onset of fatigue so that activity can be performed for lengthy periods. Throwing, kicking, and striking skills and weight bearing activities are examples of activities that help to develop this component.
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Skill-related Physical Fitness – The components of skill-related fitness are agility, balance, coordination, power, and speed. • • Agility is the ability of the body to change directions quickly. Wrestling, basketball, and football are examples of activities requiring agility. Balance is the body’s ability to maintain a state of equilibrium while remaining stationary or moving. Maintaining balance is important in all sports, but especially gymnastics. It is also important in many daily activities. Coordination is the body’s ability to perform two or more motor tasks at a time. Sports requiring hand-eye or foot-eye coordination, such as football, tennis, baseball, and soccer, are examples. Activities using small equipment are also examples.
Power is the ability to transfer energy explosively into force. It is a combination of strength and speed. Skills requiring power include high jumping, long jumping, shot putting, throwing, and kicking. Speed is the ability of the body to perform movement in a short period of time or fast. It is essential for the performance of most sports. Obviously, sprinting is an example.
Principles of Training Improving one’s fitness level requires following the principles of training. • Overload – This principle implies that you have to work harder than normal to improve your fitness level. It usually requires that you increase frequency, intensity, or duration of exercise. The amount of the overload varies from individual to individual. The important point is that it not be too large or great. Progression – Improvement in one’s fitness level should be done gradually. Too much, too fast is not following the principle of progression. Frequency – This principle answers the question “How often?” Intensity – “How hard?” is answered by this following this principle. Time (Duration) – This principle answers the question “How long?” Specificity – This principle implies that you must match the activity with the component of fitness you are trying to improve (i.e., walking improves cardiovascular endurance, weight training does not).
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Improving one’s fitness requires that you gradually overload by increasing the frequency, intensity, or duration of exercise, following the principle of specificity.
Teaching Tips • • • • • • Allow students to determine their own personal workloads. Fitness is an individual phenomenon. Provide students with a variety of fitness activities. This should decrease the chances for boredom. Provide all students with immediate, accurate, and specific-positive feedback. You are trying to develop positive attitudes towards fitness. Teach students motor skills as a means to achieve physical fitness. Various sport skills are the means that many adults use to maintain personal fitness. Serve as a role model by exercising with various classes during the course of the week. It is not practical to expect a teacher to exercise nine times a day, five days a week. Listen carefully to students to assist them in developing positive attitudes towards fitness. Challenges work better than threats.
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Start students off easy and progress slowly. This avoids discouragement and sore muscles. Engage students in low intensity activities. Intensity and duration are the two keys to fitness improvement. Low intensity activities throughout the day are best for students. Allow for variation in performance while emphasizing the importance of “doing your best.” Use a two to three minute heart and muscle warm-up prior fitness instruction. Never use fitness activities as punishment. Students will learn to hate fitness. Modify fitness activities to ensure positive experiences. Avoid harmful practices and exercises. For in-depth coverage of contraindicated exercises, see Corbin and Lindsey (1989) or Corbin, Lindsey, and Welk (2000). Ignorance is no excuse when students’ health is involved.
Critical Thinking Questions 1. 2. 3. 4. Which TEKS do physical fitness activities and knowledge address? How familiar are you with the components of health-related and skill-related fitness? Do you understand the principles of training? Would you be able to assist students in their efforts to develop physical fitness?