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William A. Ballard

Abstract: Are Physical Education Students Fit For the Future? Faculty Perspectives of a Fitness and Health Based Program Model

Mentor: Matthew Chase, Physical Education, Health & Recreation

There is little doubt of the importance of physical activity to lifelong health and fitness. Much evidence has accumulated to support the idea that regular physical activity reduces the risk for the development of many chronic diseases and enhances the overall quality of life among adults. Unfortunately, the literature also suggests that an increasing number of people remain sedentary or below recommended daily activity levels (USDHHS, 1996; CDC, 1997; and Booth & Chakravarthy, 2002). Youth today are typically more active than adults, however, the amount of physical activity among adolescents transitioning to adulthood decreases drastically (USDHHS, 1996). Watson et al. (1999) state, "Although knowledge of benefits of physical activity has become more readily available, low numbers of youth and adolescents engage in physical activities" (p. 56). Interventions that serve to promote liflong physical fitness have been found best suited to oocur at the school physical education program level (Sallis & McKenzie, 1991; McGinnis, Kanner, & DeGraw, 1991, Haywood, 1991). This is consistent with the premise that physical activity behavior tends to track throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood (Scott & Willits, 1989; Taylor, Blair, Cummings, Wun, & Malina, 1999; Pate, Baranowski, Dowda, & Trost, 1996; Malina, 2001). Given such implications, it becomes apparent that more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of school physical education programs promoting lifelong health and fitness.

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