Secondary school students physical activity during ball game lessons

Por: L. Hasanen, O. Breilin, Pilvikki Heikinaro-Johansson e S. Palomaki.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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A primary aim of school physical education is the promotion of physical activity among all children and adolescents, especially students who are inactive during their leisure time. In the Finnish national core curriculum one of the goals of physical education is to enhance students’ health-related fitness. This means that PE classes should be effective. Effectiveness includes among other things, the amount of time students spend on time-on-task and the intensity of their physical activity. The purposes of this study were, firstly, to evaluate students’ physical activity during ball game lessons, and secondly, to describe a new procedure for collecting data from a PE lesson.


Four experienced physical education specialists were selected for the sample. The data consisted of two PE classes from each teacher and the same class was observed twice. Altogether the sample included 16 ball game lessons. The PE lessons were videotaped by two cameras. In addition to the systematic analysis of videotaped data, field or direct observations were made by one observer. Students’ physical activity and behavior was analyzed by a multifactor observation system called the Physical Education Analyzing System (PEAS) [1]. PEAS is a computer-based systematic observation system that is based on duration and event recording. In this study the System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time (SOFIT) [2] was included in the PEAS student behavior categories. In addition, three students (N=48) in each PE lesson used Polar Team System heart rate monitors, developed by Polar Electro, Finland [3]. At the end of the lesson all students’ (N=272) perceived exertion was evaluated using a modified version of Borg’s 6-20 Rating Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale.


The results revealed that during ball game lessons students were on-task for 52.4 % and performed MVPA for more than 43.2% of lesson time. On Borg’s scale average perceived exertion was 12.2. There were no statistically significant differences between boys and girls in any of the above variables. There were, however, significant differences between different ball games. Students were most active during hand ball, basket ball and floor ball lessons.

Discussion/ Conclusions

The core curriculum sets several goals for physical education. Enjoyable participation appeals nowadays to be a central goal. However, an equal emphasis should be placed on enhancing health and physical fitness. Physical educators must deliver a curriculum that allows students to be active and in movement for as much of the class time as possible. Students’ motivation can be increased by well-planned and implemented PE lessons and, for example, by using the development of new technology and self-evaluation methods.


[1]. Heikinaro-Johansson P. & Palomäki S. (1998). LOTAS käsikirja. [PEAS manual].
[2]. McKenzie T., Sallis, J. & Nader P. (1991). Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 11, 195-205.
[3]. Polar Electro Finland (




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