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HEALTH RELATED FITNESS: CURRICULUM OUTLOOK AND IMPLEMENTATION PROBLEMS

SHABESHAN R.

Fakulti Pendidikan Universiti Malaya E-mail;shabes@fp.um.edu.my

Abstrak

Salah satu objektif kurikulum Pendidikan [asmani Sekolah Menengab adalab untuh mentngkatean tabap kecergasan fizileal yang berlandaskan hesibatan sepeni daya taban kardiouaskular; kekuatan dan daya tahan otot, flexibiliti dan peratus lemak, Tetapi kajtan menunjukkan komponen-eomponen ini tidaklah pada tabap yang memuaskan bagi pelajar-pelajar Sekolab Menengah. Ini disebabkan oleh beberapa faktor semasa implemeruasi kurikulum Pendidikan Jasmani di Sekolah. Tujuan artikel ini adalah untuk menerangkan apakah hecergasan fizikal aspek kesibatan, komponen-homponennya, faedah kecergasan fizikal serta kandungan kurikulum dan masalah implementasinya.

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INTRODUCTION

The level of physical fitness among school age children is not very satisfactory. Many physical educators are of the opinion that young children are overweight and this could be due to the fact that children are not actively involved in any physical activities. Being physically inactive is one of the reasons attributing to risk factors to cardiovascular diseases in adults and even among children (Young and Steinhardt, 1993; Gutin et al, 1992). Due to this, it has been questioned whether health fitness concepts are included in the present curriculum and in practice whether health related fitness concepts are incorporated during the teaching of physical educational classes in schools. With this in mind, the article is written to explain what health related fitness is and its benefits to students, curriculum outlook and some implementation problems.
HEALTH RElATED FITNESS

Physical fitness is defined as the capacity of the heart, blood vessels, lungs and the muscle to function at optimum efficiency (Pate, 1983). The above definition covers a broad area as with greater emphasis in performance related fitness. But health related fitness according to McGlynn (993), is the ability of the individual to carry out daily activities with vigour, without undue fatigue, and with enough energy to enjoy leisure time pursuits and also to meet unforseen injuries. Health-related fitness concerns the physiological make up that offers us some protection against coronary heart disease, problems associated with being overweight, a variety of muscle and joints ailments and the physiological complications to our response to stress. The components of health fitness are cardiorespiratory endurance, flexibility, muscular strength and endurance and body composition.
CARDIORESPIRATORY ENDURANCE

Cardiorespiratory endurance is the ability of the circulatory system to deliver oxygen and nutrients to all the vital organs so as to sustain prolonged, rhythmical exercises (McGlynn, 1993). How well the circulatory system supplies the oxygen to the working cells is deter24

Health Related Fitness: Curtkulum Outlook and Implementation Problems

mined by the efficiency of the heart and the respiratory system. To improve cardiorespiratory endurance, activity must be continuous and rhythmic as there should be a continuous supply of oxygen to the muscles as this will increase the level of enzymes necessary for energy production at the muscles. The most common method of developing cardiorespiratory endurance is by increasing the intensity, duration and frequency of training. To achieve this, the training heart must be of at least to 130-150 beats per minute for 12-17 years age group and should be maintained for not less than 20 to 30 minutes in order to obtain maximum benefits for the individual (Bowerman and Freeman, 1991). Cardiorespiratory endurance depends on several factors such as the heart, lungs, blood vessels, the quality and quantity of the blood, and the ability of the body to utilize the oxygen transport which indirectly determines the energy output to the heart, muscles and the nervous system. FLEXIBlLITY Flexibility is the ability of a joint to move through its full range of movement. Flexibility allows freedom of movement around the joints. Each individual needs a certain amount of flexibility for good health. Good flexibility helps the body and the joints to move freely and it helps to prevent injury. A decrease in the range of motion may lead to inefficient movement, which would further cause injuries to ligaments and tendons. To increase flexibility, muscle must be stretched beyond its normal length and be held for at least 10 to 30 seconds. Static stretching is very much recommended as it allows gradual increase in the strength reflex to a point of discomfort. By doing so, the target muscle is stretched slowly until it accommodates the stretch reflex. MUSCUlAR STRENGTH AND ENDURANCE Muscular strength is the amount of force that a muscle can exert and it is an important fitness component as it aids in performing motor skills. Muscular endurance is the capacity of the muscle to work over an extended period of time and to delay the onset of fatigue (Pangrazi and Darst, 1991). To develop strength and endurance one should 25

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apply the basic principles of overload, progressive resistance, specificity with the right intensity for strength and endurance (McGlynn, 1993), Muscle strength are effectively developed when muscles are overload at maximum or at near maximum resistance. By doing so, physiological adaptations take place which leads to increase strength. For the development of muscular endurance, low resistance with high repetition over a period is suggested . BODY COMPOSITION Body composition is the proportion of body fat to lean body mass (Pangrazi and Darst, 1991). Striking a balance between these body components is important as this reflects a part of the individual's fitness level. Body fat is classified into two categories such as essential fat and storage fat (Macardle, Katch, and Katch, 1986). The essential fat is stored in the lungs, liver, spleen, kidney, intestine muscles and lipid rich tissues in the central nervous system. The storage fat consists of fat that are stored in the adipose tissue is of nutritional reserve and it also protects most of the internal organs. The reconunended proportion of the fat for men in the twenties is approximately 12-17% and for women in the same age group is about 19-24%. Being overweight may lead to problems relating to muscles and joints because of the extra weight the stress placed on these joints and muscles. Obesity on the other hand tends to lead to other risk factors such as heart diseases and high cholesterol. An understanding of caloric intake and expenditure is important for weight control and should be taught in school physical education classes. BENEFITS OF HEALTH-RELATED FITNESS TO STUDENTS The components of health-related fitness play a vital role in improving personal health among students. If engaged in regular physical activities, with proper intensity, duration and frequency, the benefits one receives are that it makes the heart stronger and more efficient in pumping out blood. A stronger heart improves coronary circulation and this decreases the chance for a heart attack. In addition, regular exercise would lower the blood pressure by expanding to more cap26

Health Related Fitness: Curriculum Outlook and Implementation Problems

illaries and a strong possible resistance to atherosclerosis. Further, regular exercise also reduces body fat and increases lean body mass, which indirectly improves the personal appearance of students (Ratliff and Ratliff, 1994). Another important health benefit that would be derived from regular exercise is that it improves muscular strength and 'endurance which acts as resistance to fatigue. By doing regular exercise, individuals can also enjoy leisure and at the same time improve his or her quality of life. The benefits one gets from regular exercise and the importance of health-related fitness should be conveyed to the students effectively. This is because diseases and health problems seem to appear during early part of life, and it is very important that students acquire the knowledge of fitness concepts early in order to develop a healthy life style. By understanding the health fitness concepts early, then they would develop attitudes to value fitness which indirectly would lead a healthy life style. By following a healthy life style early, this would reduce the risk factors related to cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, students should understand the fact that, maintaining good health demands continuous effort with regular activity with the right intensities must be part of the individual's life, as this would be an excellent example of preventive medicine. CURRENT HEALTH STATUS The health benefits of regular exercise is well documented, and the current statistical figures available show that the mortality rate locally and abroad in relation to cardiovascular death is alarming. One has to critically analyse the local data to draw the conclusion that, the level of health-related fitness among students and among adults are not at a satisfactory level. The problem of low fitness level in our country is further compounded by the electronic conveniences and the automation that came by due to modern technology which avoided physical activity. One of the reasons put forward by the researchers is the type of life style the students lead, indirectly reflects to the type of physical education programme one undergoes through the school years. If programmes are effective in schools, students would have

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received the messages of health benefits and engage in regular exercise to keep healthy. In schools, activity patterns and health status of the children have taken a down grade due to ineffective teaching of health-related fitness concepts and due to this it has given rise to signs of heart related diseases such as arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arterial wall) among children (Cooper, 1991). Glass's study cited through Pangrazi and Darst (1991),70% of 5,000 youngsters between the ages of 6 to 18 examined showed that they have some risk factors such as high cholesterol level, high blood pressure and obesity. There is growing evidence to show that children as young as 5 to 6 years old who are not aerobically fit exhibit the same risk factors such as elevated blood pressure, especially the diastolic level and obesity to those seen in older children and adults for cardiovascular disease (Gutin et.al 1990). In Malaysia, heart diseases were not even listed as the 10 prin- ciple causes of death before 1950s, but in 1966, it rose to the second position and in 1980, it became the leading cause of death in the country (layarnalar, 1991). The dramatic increase of occurrence is actually attributed to the socio-economic status and the changing life style of the population. This is reflected by a local study conducted by Arokiasamy and Gan (1985), in Kuala Iangat, where 21% of the 1486 persons tested, who were not known to have hypertension, were found to have high blood pressure. Being inactive and with low cardiovascular endurance is not only associated with coronary heart disease, but other problems are related to it. Obesity, diabetes and heart attacks are some problems worth mentioning that are related to poor physical conditioning. The only way to overcome the problem is to introduce children at an early age to exercise and informing them of the benefits of exercise. They should be hearing messages of activities that are necessary for good health early (Ratliff and Ratliff, 1994), Children need to know about fitness and understand the concepts of fitness.

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Health Related Fitness.Curriculum Outiook and Implementation Problems

CURRICULUM OUTLOOK
The promotion for the need of quality physical education programmes with the emphasis on health related fitness has been the thrust of many physical educators and curriculum planners in the country. For a long time, physical education in our country has been reflected as play ground activities with no attainable goals. Time has come to replace this old concept to the new curriculum objectives for its worth, integrity and importance. The new concept is for the child's growth and at the same time develop skill related fitness and improve health related fitness components such as cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, muscular strength and endurance and improve the body composition of the individual. Since one of the goals of physical education is to improve health related fitness levels of the students and to have some knowledge of it, then the curriculum should somehow reflect these desired goals. The curriculum should address all these questions and plan a scope of activities and learning experiences whereby the aim and goals are attainable. In Malaysia, the aim of physical education is very dearly stated. It has two fold: 1)it seeks to emphasize the well being of basic health of the individual 2)to promote the overall physical fitness through fitness training, games, athletics and movement education. All these are aimed to promote quality life style of the individuals where their mind and body functions effectively (Pusat Perkembangan Kurikulum, 1988). If we look at the detail analysis of the secondary school physical education syllabus in Malaysia, there several goals set forth. Two goals are highlighted here which concerns our present discussion relating to health related fitness. They are as follows:

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1)to understand the concepts of physical fitness, components of fitness, principles of exercise training and safety measures 2)to improve physical fitness and improve cardiovascular endurance, muscle fitness and endurance and also to improve the body posture and flexibility. Looking at these goals, one is very certain that the Malaysian physical education system is aimed at promoting the health aspect of the students and further educating the students about the concepts of physical fitness and the contribution it makes to healthy life style. A strong push for health fitness is important as we know the health benefits that we derive from fitness activities. Fitness related learning activities should be incorporated in the daily teaching units. Teachers should be flexible and use their creative thinking incorporating the health fitness concepts such as cardiovascular respiratory functions, muscle strength and endurance, flexibility and percentage of body fat. Teachers should plan an effective teaching unit whereby fitness related concepts can be included into movements or sports skills acquisition.
IMPLEMENTATION PROBLEMS

The ineffectiveness in implementing the physical educational programmes in schools has led to the decline in health related fitness and the knowledge of it among schools students. The poor state of teaching the subject itself and with other contributing factors have attributed to the low fitness levels among students and also have eroded the status of the subject in our country. Part of the blame should be directed to the schools administrators. Physical education has been short changed for other academic subjects. Due to the recent emphasis in improving the national academic standards in overall passes, administrators were forced to strengthen academics and had to reschedule additional time for these subjects. In the process, physical education took a back seat in the time scheduling and importance.

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Heald Related Fitness; Curriculum Outlook and Implementation Problems

In addition, there are lack of qualified teachers who can teach physical education effectively. Due to the lack of qualified teachers in schools, administrators ascribe physical education classes to teachers who do not understand the content of the subject itself but to make the total number of subjects a teacher is required to teach. These teachers lack the competency to translate the physical education syllabus into practice. They fail in areas such as being a good demonstrator, introducing effective drills to enhance the skill and the most important of all incorporating the health components through teaching of a skill. Another problem faced by the subject is the time allotment for physical education classes. Firstly, the classes are not regularly fixed .such as the first two periods in the morning, but often interchangeable between the first and the third or the fourth period. Due to this, a teacher may find herself/himself in a midst of an academic class to a physical education class and this to some extent demoralizes the teacher for effective teaching of the subject. Secondly, the total time allotment for the subject itself. Normally two forty minute periods are allocated for physical education in a week. In a 40 minute class, when considering the amount of time taken for the students to change and to get back to the field, time for instruction and class management and time for changing back to school attire would at least consume 20 to 23 minutes. If this is the case, then only 15 to 18 minutes are given for actual physical education lesson to be carried out. Inter woven in this 15 to 18 minutes of class time, is the teaching of a motor skill and the incorporation of health fitness concepts and activities. Further the implementation of effective physical education classes is compounded by the lack of equipments. Grant allocated for the purcha.se of supplies, are at times redirected to other areas of imp~rtance by the administrators. At times, sports personnel do not clearly understand the distinction between sports, games and physical education. Due to this misconception, heavy allocation from the physical education grant is transferred to other areas such as inter school sporting activities. 31

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Lastly, the number of students in a class having physical education has recently been increased. Due to class mergers, at times, a single teacher would have to conduct a lesson for forty-five to fifty students. Adding to this big class is the lack of equipmnets which in fact affects the turn over rate or to say the number of times each student is able to touch the ball decreases drastically If this is the case, then effective teaching and learning is not taking place in physical education classes Teachers who are unable to translate the curriculum goals into practice and combined with the above mentioned factors have in some way or other have contributed to the decline of health related fitness among students and further have eroded the status of the subject itself. Not only teachers and administrators have failed in imparting the knowledge and the skills to the students, but on a broader outlook, they have indeed "sabotage" the future generation of good health and well being.
CONCLUSION

In conclusion, Malaysian health-related fitness level is in the decline. On the other hand, improved health-related fitness actually reduces the risk factors of coronary heart disease and other related illness. Health related fitness concepts should be taught in physical education classes and it is the only subject that plays an important role in improving health related fitness. It is therefore important that qualified teachers be given the task to teach the subject as they will be able to carry out effective teaching by planning daily activities with proper learning experiences to improve health related fitness among students

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Arokiasamy, J.T., and Gan, C.Y. (1995), A blood pressure profile of Malaysians 12 years and above in rural community. Journal of Malaysian Soc. Health, 5 (2), 17-24 Bowerman, W.]., and Freeman, W.H. (1991). High Performance Trainingfor Track and Field (2nd ed). Champaign, IL: Leisure Press. Cooper, K. (1991). Kid Fitness. New York: Bantam. Gutin,B. et.al. (1990). Blood Pressure, Fitness and Fatness in 5 and 6 year old Children. JAMA .. 264 (9), 1123-1127. Jayamalar.R. (1991). Coronary artery disease in Malaysia: A Perspective. Med.]. Malaysia. 460),1-6. Khoo, K.L., Tan, H., and Khoo,T.H. (1991). Cardiovascular Mortality in Peninsular Malaysia: 1950-1989. Med.]. Malaysia. 46 (1), 7-19. McArdle, W.D., Katch, F.L, and Katch, V.I. (1986). Exercise Physiology, Energy Nutrition, and Human Performance (2nd. ed) Philadelphia: Lea Febiger. McGlynn, G. (1993). Dynamics of Physical Fitness, A Practical Approach Ord ed) Dubuque, Iowa :WCB Brown and Benchmark Publishers. Pangrazi, R.P., and Darst, P.W. (1991). Dynamic Physical Education for Secondary School Students, Curriculum and Instruction. (2nd ed). New York: Macmillian Publishing Company. Pate, RR (1993). A New Definition of Youth Fitness. Physical and Sports Medicine. 11(4),77-88. Ratliff, T., and Ratliff, RM. (1994). Teaching Children Fitness, becoming A Master Teacher. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Young, D.R., and Steinhardt, M.A. (1995). The Importance of physical Fitness for the reduction of coronary artery disease risk factors. Sports Medicine. 19 (5), 300-310.

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