The Effect Of Different Physical Education Lessons In The Activity Levels Of Greek High School Children

Por: Dimitris Hatziharistos e Irene Kossiva.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Physical Education (PE) classes provide the best opportunity to address the health-related physical activity needs of
virtually all children (Sallis & MacKenzie, 1991), and through the delivery of physical education lessons children
should experience moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) for at least 50% of lesson time (U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services, 2000). Such a result could be achieved by PE lessons emphasising on fitness rather than
skill activities according to McKenzie et al. (1991), while Stratton (1997) reported that invasion games seem more
likely to attain MVPA goals than dance, track and field, fitness or gymnastic lessons. The purpose of this study was to
investigate possible differences in the physical activity levels of Greek high school children during different physical
education lessons.

A total of 93 PE lessons, including 32 basketball, 19 volleyball, 16 fitness, 7 folk dance, and 19 mixed lessons, taught
by 32 PE teachers, in 19 high schools of the Prefecture of Attica were assessed. The System of Observing Fitness
Instruction Time (SOFIT) was used to record the activity levels of 4 students every 20 seconds during each lesson
(McKenzie et al., 1991). The assessed activity levels are categorized into 5 levels, comprising of lying, sitting, standing,
walking, and very active. To identify differences between the observed PE lessons and children’s respective activity
levels, a one-way ANOVA and post hoc tests with the Scheffe criterion were applied (p<.05).

Overall, the type of physical education lesson was found to differentiate significantly children’s activity levels and
particularly, sitting (F(4,88)=50.21, p<.001), walking (F(4,88)=13.80, p<.001), and very active (F(4,88)=9.89, p<.001),
whereas post hoc tests showed significant differences between groups. From Table 1, it can be observed that lessons’
time length ranged from 31.40 to 33.65 minutes, while mean time length was 32.46 minutes. Moreover, during
basketball, volleyball, fitness and mixed lessons children were engaged in activity levels walking and very active,
which correspond to MVPA, for more than 50% of lesson time. Post hoc tests indicated that folk dance lesson time was
mostly spent in activity level sitting and differed significantly from basketball (p<.001), volleyball (p<.001), fitness
(p<.001) and mixed lessons’ time (p<.001). Accordingly, in activity level walking, basketball differed from volleyball
(p<.008) and folk dance (p<.013), volleyball from fitness (p<.001) and folk dance (p<.001), and mixed lessons from
fitness (p<.025) and folk dance (p<.006) respectively. Folk dance percentage of lesson time was significantly less in
activity level very active compared to basketball (p<.001), volleyball (p<.018), fitness (p<.001) and mixed lessons
(p<.001), whereas fitness was assessed to produce higher activity levels than volleyball (p<.042).

Children’s activity levels were related with the type of PE lesson. According to McKenzie et al. (1991), SOFIT activity
levels walking and very active correspond to moderate and vigorous physical activity, whereas mean heart rate values
(HR) of 153 bpm were reported for activity level very active. Stratton (1997) defined MVPA with the equivalent of HR
≥150 bpm. Present results suggested that Greek high school children experience satisfying amounts of MVPA in all of
the examined PE lessons, except for folk dance. In terms of the critical limit of 50% of lesson time, volleyball and folk
dance gave low percentages of lesson time as in Stratton’s results (1997), whereas fitness was significantly higher
compared to that researcher’s respective percentage. In conclusion, basketball, fitness and mixed lessons appear to have
a greater contribution to children’s cardiorespiratory fitness than volleyball and folk dance lessons.

[1]. McKenzie et al. (1991). J. Teach. Phys. Educ., 11, 195-205.
[2]. Sallis JF, McKenzie TL (1991). Res. Q. Exerc. Sport, 62,124-137.
[3]. Stratton G. (1997). J. Teach. Phys. Educ., 16, 357-367.
[4]. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2000). Healthy People 2010. Washington, DC: U.S. Government
Printing Office.

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