The impact of high intensity training on fitness of middle school students

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Christine Michelle Rockey (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Pamela Brown

Abstract: Fitness of youth is on the decline in the United States. Students entering middle school see a steady decline from fifth grade through the end of high school. The decline in fitness is contributing to declining health. The problem is so widespread, it is difficult to address on an individual basis. One logical way to address the lack of physical fitness in students is through activities at school since most students attend school for 6-8 hours a day and most school districts have a physical activity requirement. Creating a physical activity that is fun, quick, effective, and uses little equipment could start at the middle school and instill values that would continue for the students’ lifetimes. This research investigated if an eight-week intervention of high intensity exercise would improve the fitness and motivation to exercise of middle school students in a southeastern county. A college student research fellow led an intervention with three sections of middle school PE classes (n=147) in a middle school in the south. Three other sections acted as a control group for the study (n=140). Twice per week, 6-8 students rotated through stations, doing a high intensity training session consisting of two 4-minute Tabata style workouts. In each four-minute activity, there was one cardiovascular activity and one muscular strength and endurance activity. Prior to and after the intervention, all students completed the state mandated Fitnessgram assessment. In addition, they completed the intrinsic motivation inventory and those exposed to the intervention completed the physical activity enjoyment questionnaire. Teachers provided feedback through interviews, the college student research fellow kept a daily journal of her experience, and the primary investigator observed the program four times during the semester. As expected, being enrolled in and participating in physical education led to strong, statistically significant improvements on all four measures in both the intervention and control groups from the beginning to the end of the intervention. For example, overall Pacer scores improved significantly, F (1, 286) = 319.93, p<.001, ?p 2 = .529, from pre (M=21.61 ± 8.93) to post (29.48 ± 11.18). The group x time interaction was significant for the push up test, F (1, 285) = 29.67, p< .001, ?p 2=.094 and flexibility, F (1, 285) =22.45, p < .001, ?p 2=.073. In both, the intervention group improved more than the control group. In the open-ended responses of the PACES survey, they reported they enjoyed the high intensity training more than some other types of activities they have done. Interviews with physical education teachers indicated that the intervention appeared beneficial and enjoyable to the students. The college student instructor also indicated that students participated in and appeared to enjoy the intervention. The research results suggest that a two day per week, 8-week high intensity training intervention may show promise for improving fitness and feeling competent doing activity in middle school students. More research is needed to determine the best protocol to improve fitness and to improve overall enjoyment of the activity. [This abstract has been edited to remove characters that will not display in this system. Please see the PDF for the full abstract.]

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
Fitness, Fitnessgram, High intensity, Intrinsic motivation inventory, Middle school, Physical activity enjoyment scale
Physical education and training $x Study and teaching (Middle school)
Physical fitness for youth $x Psychological aspects
Motivation (Psychology) in adolescence
Exercise $x Psychological aspects

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