aid Coe, who is now an assistant professor in the Department of Movement Science at Grand Valley State University. “We were expecting to find that students enrolled in PE would have better grades because of the opportunity to be active during the school day. But enrollment in PE alone did not influence grades.
“The students who performed better academically in this study were the most active, meaning those who participated in a sport or other vigorous activity at least three times a week.”
It’s important to note, said Pivarnik, that the grades of the students taking the physical education course did not change for either the good or the bad. This is noteworthy because in this day of “No Child Left Behind” and standardized testing, many public school boards think physical education is a luxury they just can’t afford.
“If kids have PE every day, is it going to hurt grades? The answer is no,” Pivarnik said. “But, maybe if we pump up the volume a little bit, if they are a little more vigorously active, it might make a difference.”
The difference between vigorous activity and moderate activity is heart rate. Moderate activities, such as walking or raking leaves, don’t get the heart rate up or make the person breathe harder.
Vigorous activities, such as running or swimming for exercise, increase heart rate, causing the exerciser to breathe harder.
The fitness levels aspired to in this project are derived from federal government guidelines for health-related behaviors known as “Healthy People 2010.” Developed from these guidelines, which range from limiting alcohol use to wearing seatbelts to avoiding violent behavior, was a list of leading health indicators that can be targeted for change.
“No. 1 on the list: physical activity; No. 2: obesity,” Pivarnik said. “These are highest on the list because they are modifiable and they are related toso many diseases.”
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