Elementary Physical Education Program

( Grades 1 through 4 )

Physical fitness can be divided into two areas: Health- related physical fitness and physical performance related primarily to athletic ability. Health-related physical fitness includes those aspects of physiological function that offer protection from diseases resulting from a sedentary life-style. It can be improved and/or maintained through properly directed physical activity. Specific components include cardiovascular fitness, body composition ( ratio of leanness to fatness ), abdominal strength and endurance, and flexibility. These specific components can be measured through administering a test.

The Middletown Physical Fitness Test is administered twice a year in grades one through four. The pre-test is given in September and the post-test is given in late May or early June. The three components of the test are : 10-Minute Run, One-Minute Sit-Up, and the Sit and Reach.

Aerobic fitness plays an important role in living a healthy life-style and may be the most important element of physical fitness. Cardiovascular endurance is the ability of the heart, the blood vessels, and the respiratory system to deliver oxygen efficiently over an extended period of time. To develop cardiovascular endurance, activity must be aerobic in nature. Activities that are continuous and rhythmic in nature require that a continuous supply of oxygen be delivered to the muscle cells. During aerobic exercise, oxygen the body uses in a given period of time is called the maximum oxygen uptake and is the best indicator of cardiovascular endurance. Activities that stimulate development in this area are paced walking, jogging, biking, rope jumping, aerobic dance, swimming, and continuous movement sports such as basketball and soccer.

Flexibility is the range of movement through which a joint or sequence of joints can move. Inactive individuals lose flexibility, whereas frequent movement helps retain the range of movement. Through stretching activities, the length of muscles, tendons, and ligaments is increased. The ligaments and tendons retain their elasticity through constant use. Flexibility is important to fitness; a lack of flexibility can create health problems for individuals. People who are flexible are less subject to injury in sport, usually possess sound posture, and may have less low back pain. Many physical activities demand a wide range of motion to generate maximum force. Static, controlled stretching, without bouncing, is effective because it does not induce the stretch reflex. The "stretch reflex" is when an individual bounces during stretching, which causes muscle soreness and strain. Stretching involves gradually increasing the stretch to the point of discomfort, backing off slightly to where the position can be held comfortably, and maintaining the stretch for an extended period of time. The length of time to hold the stretch can be started at 10 to 15 seconds and increased gradually up to 30 to 45 seconds.

Strength is the ability of muscles to exert force; it is an important fitness component for learning motor skills. Most activities that students are involved in do not build strength in the areas where it is most needed; the arm-shoulder girdle and the abdominal region. Muscular endurance is the ability to exert force over an extended period. Endurance postpones the onset of fatigue so that activity can be performed for lengthy periods. To develop muscular endurance in young people, a low-resistance, high-repetition work load is suggested. Any type of muscular strength and endurance workouts should be balanced with the proper amount of rest, and dietary requirements.

Skill-related fitness includes those physical qualities that enable a person to perform in sport activities. This is the same as motor fitness. The specific components that make up skill related physical fitness are: agility, balance, coordination, power, and speed. Most skill-related fitness components can be measured. ( ie. Shuttle-run etc. ) *** When skill related fitness is taught in the elementary school, it should be accompanied by an explanation of why some children can perform well with a minimum of effort whereas others, no matter how hard they try, never excel. *** Skill-related fitness and Health-related fitness are different entities and can be measured differently!