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New Survey Reveals Health-Related Fitness as Primary Focus of Middle and High School Physical Education Programs
Date:8/11/2009

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., Aug. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- With growing concerns among parents and policymakers about the rise in childhood obesity - heightened by the recent CDC report showing that obesity rose 37% between 1998 and 2006 - approximately two-thirds of middle and high school physical education teachers say that health-related fitness is the primary focus of their programs, according to a new survey conducted by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and Polar.

The national survey of K-12 physical education teachers revealed that, in contrast to middle and high schools, at the elementary school level, 53% of the programs have an emphasis on motor skills and movement forms. Movement is critical to child growth and development while motor skill competency provides a foundation for successful and enjoyable participation in a variety of physical activities.

"The goal of physical education is to develop individuals who have the knowledge, skills and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of physical activity," said NASPE Executive Director Charlene Burgeson. "Because the role of middle and high schools is to prepare adolescents to make good choices and become responsible adults, the focus on health-related fitness is appropriate and important."

Technology is also playing an important role in today's PE classrooms. According to the survey, 51% of teachers said technology increases student motivation.

"With today's tech-savvy students, incorporating technology, such as heart rate monitors and exergames, into physical education programs is a great way to engage and motivate students," said Jeff Padovan, President, Polar USA. "Technology is also helping teachers and schools to collect valid, reliable data that can be used to assess and monitor student progress."

In fact, 59% of teachers said that technology enhances communication with school and district administrators about student performance and achievement. Additionally, 60% said technology provides data for assessment and grading.

A variety of technologies are being incorporated into classroom instruction. For instance, 70% of PE programs use pedometers; 51% use fitness assessment tools such as TriFit, a system that allows teachers to analyze individual student health and fitness; 39% use heart rate monitors; and 32% use exergames such as Dance Dance Revolution and Wii Fit.

"As physical educators, it's our responsibility to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to lead healthy, physically active lives," Burgeson explained. "To achieve this, we need resources and support to create a motivating environment and offer a variety of sports and activities that meet the needs and interests of all students."

Physical education programs are offering diverse activities such as dance (70%), disc sports (69%) including Frisbee golf, tennis (56%), lacrosse (31%), yoga (28%) and rock wall climbing (22%).

"There is no quick fix to reversing childhood obesity," Padovan said. "We must take a multi-pronged approach that focuses on nutrition, prevention, regular physical activity and a comprehensive physical education program. By giving our schools and communities the tools and resources they need, we'll be better prepared to address this issue and educate our children - helping them to lead longer, healthier lives."

The survey was conducted by Polar, the leading manufacturer of heart rate monitors and fitness assessment technology with a 10-year history of providing high-tech tools to schools across the country and NASPE, the preeminent national authority on physical education and a recognized leader in sport and physical activity. A total of 1,375 physical education teachers participated in the survey between May 28 and June 15, 2009. Of this, 1,164 K-12 physical education teachers completed the survey.

About NASPE

The preeminent national authority on physical education and a recognized leader in sport and physical activity, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) is a non-profit professional membership association that sets the standard for practice in physical education and sport. NASPE's 16,000 members include: K-12 physical education teachers, coaches, athletic directors, athletic trainers, sport management professionals, researchers, and college/university faculty who prepare physical activity professionals. The mission of NASPE is to enhance knowledge, improve professional practice, and increase support for high quality physical education, sport and physical activity programs. It is the largest of the five national associations that make the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance (AAHPERD).

About Polar

Headquartered in Lake Success, NY, Polar is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Finland-based Polar Electro OY, which invented the first wireless heart rate monitor (HRM) in 1977. Since its founding over thirty years ago, Polar has been pioneering a revolution in training and leading the heart rate monitoring and fitness assessment technology category with innovative products and solutions that deliver valuable feedback and guidance to help individuals reach their personal goals by improving their well-being and sports performance through a profound understanding of the human body. Today, Polar training computers are the number one choice among consumers worldwide. Polar products and technologies are also used by leading fitness facilities, athletic teams, corporate wellness facilities and by thousands of physical educations programs around the country. For more information, visit www.polarusa.com.

    MEDIA CONTACTS:

    Jasmine Lyons                            Paula Keyes Kun
    CooperKatz for Polar USA                 NASPE
    917-595-3046                             703-476-3461
    jlyons@cooperkatz.com                    pkun@aahperd.org


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SOURCE National Association for Sport and Physical Education; Polar
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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