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Investigating exercise, fitness, and health – Level 7

Intended outcomes

Students will:

  • investigate and analyse commonly held beliefs about exercise, fitness, and health (7D1)
  • investigate and describe the relationships between exercise, fitness, and health (7D1)
  • identify and analyse ways in which commonly held beliefs about exercise, fitness, and health affect themselves, other people, and society and evaluate these effects (7D1)
  • apply the principles of regular exercise to enhance their personal health (7A2)

Link to NCEA achievement standard

These activities will help to prepare students for assessment against the following NCEA achievement standard:

This achievement standard requires students to be involved in regular physical exercise and to relate this personal activity programme to a personal definition of fitness and health. The learning activities on the following pages require students to formulate their own concept of "fitness and health". To meet the requirements of the standard, students need to maintain a personal, regular programme of physical activity as well as examining related concepts and relationships.

Key area of learning

  • Physical activity

Teachers' note: Hauora

From their previous physical education work, students should have gained a sound understanding of hauora and an understanding of how the body works and how it responds to exercise.

Materials that may have been used in previous work on exercise physiology and fitness can be useful, especially for study of the relationship between fitness and health.

Background information

Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum (1999) encourages teachers to view movement-related programmes (including fitness programmes) within a framework of the four dimensions of hauora.

These learning activities are intended to enable students to challenge "healthism". Healthism is a set of assumptions based on the belief that health is solely an individual responsibility. It includes the concept of the body as a machine that is influenced only by physical factors. Students are encouraged to question such assumptions and conceptions and to identify ways in which the social, mental and emotional, and spiritual dimensions of hauora affect people's physical health and fitness.

Resources

Useful resources for these activities include:

Articles available on websites include:

Activities

There are five possible learning activities provided for this learning experience.

Introduction

Explain to students that this series of activities will give them opportunities to identify assumptions about exercise and fitness and to find out how regular exercise really affects their fitness and health.

They will do this by:

  • investigating commonly held beliefs about exercise, fitness, and health
  • investigating the relationships between regular exercise, fitness, and health
  • discussing the impact of exercise on the physical, social, mental and emotional, and spiritual dimensions of health for themselves, other people, and society
  • analysing commonly held beliefs about exercise, fitness, and health
  • critically analysing and describing the relationships between regular exercise, fitness, and health
  • defining fitness and health in their own terms

Share the learning goals with your students and establish success criteria.

Activity 1: Identifying their own beliefs

Students investigate commonly held beliefs about exercise, fitness, and health by making decisions based on their existing knowledge and having their decisions challenged. Thinking about their beliefs and the decisions they make enables students to identify, and distinguish between, the assumptions and the facts that are associated with exercise, fitness, and health and to seek additional information to fill in any gaps in their knowledge.

Provide each student with a sheet of paper on which fourteen numbered continuums have been drawn. Read the fourteen statements in the list below (or uncover them on an overhead projector one at a time). After each statement, students make a mark (on the relevant continuum) that represents their opinion in response to the statement. Each continuum should range from strongly agree to strongly disagree, and the middle point should be identified.

Survey statements

  • If you exercise regularly, you are fit (regardless of the type of exercise, its duration, or its intensity)
  • A slim person is a healthy person
  • A slim person is a fit person
  • If you are fit, you are healthy
  • Being healthy is when you are fit and eat and sleep well
  • Health is the absence of illness
  • Exercise = Fitness = Health
  • Health is about the body and the mind
  • Muscle turns to fat when you don't exercise
  • Males exercise more than females
  • Males are socialised into sport and exercise
  • Young people are fitter than old people
  • A person who plays sport is fit
  • Sport is healthy

Students share their responses to the statements by discussing them in groups.

When this continuum activity is repeated (in Activity 4: Critical thinking), students will be able to see how their ideas about exercise, fitness, and health may have changed, and they will reflect on these changes. (On this second occasion, they could be asked to justify their position and describe why their beliefs might have changed.)

Activity 2: Survey

Depending on the number of students in the class and their access to people in the community, each student could survey two to four people, asking them about their concepts of exercise, fitness, and health. The class should agree beforehand on a set of questions that they will use, for ease of data collation and analysis. The questions could include the following.

Suggested survey questions

  • How would you describe a fit person?
  • What does a person have to do to become fit or to maintain fitness?
  • How would you describe a healthy person?
  • How does a person achieve health?
  • Do you consider a fit person to be a healthy person?
  • What are the benefits of regular exercise?
  • How did you form your beliefs about exercise, fitness, and health?

Teachers' note

The question format of the suggested survey questions has been designed to elicit a range of different responses that will be analysed later in the unit of work. It may be appropriate to use electronic survey forms (see 'Safety and ethical issues for research' page and information about Internet safety and the NetSafe Kit for Schools in the 'Child developments and new technologies' learning experience).

Ideally, students will survey a wide range of people so that their sample of opinions represents more than the opinions of their friends and relatives.

They should consider surveying such groups as:

  • their peers
  • teachers of physical education
  • teachers of other learning areas
  • parents or people in their thirties, forties, and fifties
  • grandparents or people in their sixties, seventies, and eighties
  • people who work in the "fitness industry"
  • people from an identified profession or job
  • people from an identified culture

Before students start the survey, discuss procedures for:

  • deciding which groups they will survey
  • gaining the consent of the respondents
  • ensuring confidentiality
  • using the data

Refer also to the information about safety issues on 'Safety and ethical issues for research'.

Students carry out their survey. They go on to sort their data and group the survey results according to the groups of people who responded (for example, elderly people, fitness industry workers, or teachers who are not physical education teachers). Each small group of students could collate the responses from two of the sample groups. This will enable them to compare and contrast the beliefs of two groups of people.

Individually or in small groups, students analyse their data, noting the frequency of similar answers within each sample group and identifying commonly held beliefs about exercise, fitness, and health. The following questions could help them do this.
Possible analysis questions:

  • What are the commonly held beliefs about fitness within each sample group?
  • What are the similarities or differences between the groups, if any?
  • What are the commonly held beliefs about health within each sample group?
  • What are the similarities or differences between the groups, if any?
  • What are the commonly held beliefs about exercise within each sample group?
  • What are the similarities or differences between the groups, if any?

Students then summarise the responses from each sample group and interpret these responses. They share their results, their summary statements, and their interpretations with the class.

Students select a particular group and identify ways in which the people in the group make links between exercise, fitness, and health, (for example, in such statements as "If you are fit, you are healthy" or "Health is about the body and the mind").

Using the information from their analysis, students prepare and present to their peers short statements and images that represent commonly held beliefs about exercise, fitness, and health. They should also discuss the similarities and differences between the views held by different groups. The commonly held beliefs could be either misconceptions or factual information. This activity is designed to process some of the ideas that students are starting to discover.

Activity 3: Exploring the benefits of regular physical activity

Review the four dimensions of hauora with students:

  • physical well-being – taha tinana
  • social well-being – taha whānau
  • mental and emotional well-being – taha hinengaro
  • spiritual well-being – taha wairua

Students divide a large sheet of paper into four squares and give each square a heading representing one of the dimensions – taha tinana, taha whānau, taha hinengaro, and taha wairua.

Have the information from each box in the ' Benefits of regular exercise for well-being/hauora (PDF, 71 KB) ' handout (see 'Information for cards' box below) printed on separate cards. Shuffle the cards and deal them out to your students. (This may be done as a class activity, or smaller groups could work with multiple copies of the set.) Students decide which card best fits each dimension of hauora and place each card under the appropriate heading. Some of the information on the cards could be placed under more than one heading.

Encourage students to discuss why they place each card under a particular heading – discussion is likely to throw light on the interrelated nature of the four dimensions of hauora. Students can go on to discuss the benefits of exercise (physical, social, mental and emotional, and spiritual) for themselves, for other people, and for society.

Students now categorise the responses to their survey question "What are the benefits of regular exercise?" (see 'Activity 2: Survey'). They make generalisations about the surveyed group's statements and compare these statements with the information on the set of cards. For instance, how far do their survey responses encompass the four dimensions of hauora? What dimension, if any, is under-represented in the survey responses? Ask students to suggest reasons why the survey responses may emphasise some dimensions of hauora more than others.

Ask students (working in small groups) to discuss and respond to the following questions.

  • What are the implications (physical, social, mental and emotional, and spiritual) for an individual who thinks of health only in terms of physical fitness? Will this affect their lifestyle choices?
  • How do individuals benefit when they give equal consideration to all four dimensions of well-being?
  • What are the implications (physical, social, mental and emotional, and spiritual) for a society that promotes physical fitness as the most important dimension of health?
  • What are the benefits for a society when it promotes all four dimensions of well-being?

Teachers' notes

The fact that people's well-being is enhanced by regular participation in physical activity is well documented (for example, by Doll-Tepper and Scoretz, 2001). Recent studies establish that an active lifestyle has a range of physical, social, mental and emotional, and spiritual benefits.

In addition to these benefits for individuals, regular physical activity by community members can benefit communities in an economic sense. In particular, when members of the workforce take part in regular physical activity, their higher levels of health contribute to reducing public health costs and increasing levels of productivity. Physical activity programmes in the community have also been shown to reduce absenteeism, both at school and in the workplace. A culture in which physical activity is valued tends to create healthier physical and social environments.

However, some aspects of physical activity (for example, people participating in vigorous activity without appropriate training) can cause legitimate concerns. Students should be encouraged to use the action competence learning process and the critical thinking questions to examine some negative aspects of physical activity.

Activity 4: Critical thinking

Students analyse the commonly held beliefs about exercise, fitness, and health that they identified through their survey in Activity 2, building on what they have learned in the previous two activities. They could use the questions in the Questions for analysing beliefs (PDF, 51 KB) handout to help them analyse the commonly held beliefs.

Students now repeat the continuum activity (see Activity 1: Identifying their own beliefs'). They compare their previous positions with their present ones and explain why their positions on the continuum might have changed, justifying their current position with reasons.

Activity 5: Developing a personal definition of fitness and health

Students write a personal definition of fitness and health, with specific examples, and explain why they believe that their definition is accurate. Their explanation should refer to their personal programme of regular physical activity and incorporate information about the societal attitudes and beliefs that they have discussed and analysed during this sequence of activities.


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