3

Physical Activity and Physical Education: Relationship to Growth, Development, and Health

Key Messages

•  Regular physical activity promotes growth and development and has multiple benefits for physical, mental, and psychosocial health that undoubtedly contribute to learning.

•  Specifically, physical activity reduces the risk for heart disease, diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, obesity, and metabolic syndrome; improves various other aspects of health and fitness, including aerobic capacity, muscle and bone strength, flexibility, insulin sensitivity, and lipid profiles; and reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.

•  Physical activity can improve mental health by decreasing and preventing conditions such as anxiety and depression, as well as improving mood and other aspects of well-being.

•  Physical activity programming specifically designed to do so can improve psychosocial outcomes such as self-concept, social behaviors, goal orientation, and most notably self-efficacy. These attributes in turn are important determinants of current and future participation in physical activity.



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3 Physical Activity and Physical Education: Relationship to Growth, Development, and Health Key Messages • Regular physical activity promotes growth and development and has multiple benefits for physical, mental, and psychosocial health that undoubtedly contribute to learning. • Specifically, physical activity reduces the risk for heart disease, diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, obesity, and m ­ etabolic syndrome; improves various other aspects of health and fitness, including aerobic capacity, muscle and bone strength, f ­lexibility, insulin sensitivity, and lipid profiles; and reduces stress, anxiety, and depression. • Physical activity can improve mental health by decreasing and preventing conditions such as anxiety and depression, as well as improving mood and other aspects of well-being. • Physical activity programming specifically designed to do so can improve psychosocial outcomes such as self-concept, social b ­ ehaviors, goal orientation, and most notably self-efficacy. These attributes in turn are important determinants of current and future participation in physical activity. 97

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98 Educating the Student Body • Sedentary behaviors such as sitting and television viewing contribute to health risks both because of and independently of their impact on physical activity. • Health-related behaviors and disease risk factors track from child- hood to adulthood, indicating that early and ongoing opportunities for physical activity are needed for maximum health benefit. •  be effective, physical activity programming must align with the To predictable developmental changes in children’s exercise capacity and motor skills, which affect the activities in which they can suc- cessfully engage. • Frequent bouts of physical activity throughout the day yield short- term benefits for mental and cognitive health while also providing opportunities to practice skills and building confidence that pro- motes ongoing engagement in physical activity. • Distinct types of physical activity address unique health concerns and contribute in distinct ways to children’s health, suggesting that a varied regimen including aerobic and resistance exercise, struc- tured and unstructured opportunities, and both longer sessions and shorter bouts will likely confer the greatest benefit. T he behaviors and traits of today’s children, along with their genetics, are determinants of their growth and development; their physical, ­ ental, m and psychosocial health; and their physical, cognitive, and academic per- formance. Technological advances of modern society have contributed to a sedentary lifestyle that has changed the phenotype of children from that of 20 years ago. Children today weigh more and have a higher body mass index (BMI) than their peers of just a generation earlier (Ogden et al., 2012). Behaviorally, most children fail to engage in vigorous- or moderate- intensity physical activity for the recommended 60 minutes or more each day, with as many as one-third reporting no physical activity in the pre- ceding 5 days (CDC, 2012). This lack of participation in physical activity has contributed to a greater prevalence of pediatric obesity, a decrease in fitness (e.g., flexibility, muscular strength, cardiorespiratory capacity), and a greater risk for disease (Boreham and Riddoch, 2001; Eisenmann, 2003; Malina, 2007; Steele et al., 2008). (See Box 3-1 for an overview of the rela- tionship between physical activity and physical fitness.)

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Relationship to Growth, Development, and Health 99 BOX 3-1 Physical Activity and Physical Fitness As noted in Chapter 1 (see the box titled “Key Terms Used in This Report” on p. 17), physical activity, a behavior, is defined as bodily move- ment that increases energy expenditure, whereas fitness is a physiologic trait, commonly defined in terms of cardiorespiratory capacity (e.g., maximal oxygen consumption), although other components of fitness have been defined (IOM, 2012b). Exercise, a subset of physical activity, is “planned, structured and repetitive” (Carpersen et al., 1985, p. 128) and designed to target a ­ articular outcome, for example, cardiorespiratory p capacity or another component of fitness. Physical education provides opportunities for developmentally appropriate physical activity, usually structured to promote motor skill development, fitness, and health. The relationship between physical activity and physical fitness is complex and bidirectional. Numerous studies have shown a significant relation- ship between physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness, which may mean that physical activity improves fitness or that physically fit indi­ viduals choose to engage in physical activity more than their less fit peers, or both. Experimental studies have shown that exercise training improves fitness (Malina et al., 2004), although the response is variable and clearly influenced by genetics (Bouchard, 2012), and physical activity and fitness are independently related to health and academic perfor- mance (see the figure below). Physical Activity Academic Health Performance Physical Fitness Conceptual framework illustrating relationships among physical activity, physical fitness, health,Figure for Box 3-1.eps and academic performance.

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100 Educating the Student Body While more can always be learned, the evidence for the health benefits of physical activity is irrefutable (HHS, 1996, 2008). Adults engaged in regular physical activity have lower rates of chronic disease (e.g., coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, osteo- porosis, and some cancers) and are less likely to die prematurely (HHS, 1996, 2008; Bauman, 2004). And while the ill effects of chronic disease are manifested mainly in adults, it is increasingly better understood that the development of these conditions starts in childhood and adolescence (Hallal et al., 2006; Cook et al., 2009; Halfon et al., 2012). It appears evident, then, that promotion of health-enhancing behaviors must also start early in life. Indeed, growing evidence points to long-term effects of child and adolescent physical activity on adult morbidity and mortality in addition to its more immediate effects (Hallal et al., 2006) (see Figure 3-1). Evidence for both direct and indirect health effects of physical activity has been reported (Hallal et al., 2006), and the need for ongoing participa- tion in physical activity to stimulate and maintain the chronic adaptations that underlie those benefits is well documented. To understand the relation- Physical Activity b c Morbidity in Childhood in Childhood d a b Morbidity in Adolescence Physical Activity c in Adolescence d a Morbidity in Adulthood b Physical Activity c in Adulthood d Mortality in Adulthood FIGURE 3-1  Conceptual model of how physical activity in childhood and adolescence is beneficial to health. Physical activity has both immediate and long-term health benefits: (a) Physical activity tends to track; earlyFigureactivity is associated with physical activity in physical 3-1.eps subsequent life stages. (b) Physical activity reduces morbidity risk in childhood and adoles- cence. (c) Physical activity may be important in treating and slowing some diseases in children and adolescents. (d) Early physical activity influences future morbidity (e.g., physical activity in childhood and adolescence may reduce fracture risk later in life). SOURCE: Adapted from Hallal et al., 2006.

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Relationship to Growth, Development, and Health 101 ship of physical activity and aerobic fitness to health during childhood, it is important first to recognize the developmental changes that occur throughout maturation. During the early stages of adolescence, for example, participation in physical activity and corresponding physical fitness begin to decline (Duncan et al., 2007). Such differences across stages of development highlight the importance of examining the effects of growth and maturation on physical and cognitive health. Accordingly, this chapter reviews how physical activity may influence developmental processes and other aspects of somatic growth and maturation. A complete review of the effects of physical activity on all tissues and systems is beyond the scope of this report. Rather, the focus is on components of body composition and systems that underlie engagement in physical activity, physical fitness, and chronic disease risk and that in turn influence other aspects of health and academic performance (discussed in Chapter 4). Addressed in turn is the relationship between physical activity and physical, psychosocial, and mental health. Structural and functional brain maturation and how physical activity may influence those developmental processes and cognitive health are also reviewed in Chapter 4. Physical Health This section reviews what is known about the relationship between physical activity and (1) somatic growth, development, and function and (2) health- and performance-related fitness. Somatic Growth, Development, and Function Growth occurs through a complex, organized process characterized by predictable developmental stages and events. Although all individuals follow the same general course, growth and maturation rates vary widely among individuals. Just as it is unrealistic to expect all children at the same age to achieve the same academic level, it is unrealistic to expect children at the same age to have the same physical development, motor skills, and physical capacity. Regular physical activity does not alter the process of growth and development. Rather, developmental stage is a significant deter- minant of motor skills, physical capacity, and the adaptation to activity that is reasonable to expect (see Box 3-2). Developmental Stages Postnatal growth is commonly divided into three or four age periods. Infancy spans the first year of life. Childhood extends from the end of infancy to the start of adolescence and is often divided into early child-

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102 Educating the Student Body BOX 3-2 Growth, Development, and Maturation Growth Growth is the normal process of increase in size as a result of accretion of tissues characteristic of the organism; growth is the dominant biological activity for most of the first two decades of life. Changes in size are the outcome of an increase in cell number (hyperplasia), an increase in cell size (hypertrophy), and an increase in intercellular substances (accretion). Development Encompassing growth and maturation, development denotes a broader concept; when used in a biological context, development refers to differ- entiation and specialization of stem cells into different cell types, tissues, organs, and functional units. Development continues as different systems become functionally refined. Development also refers to the acquisition and refinement of behavior relating to competence in a variety of inter- related domains, such as motor competence and social, emotional, and cognitive competence. Maturation Maturation is the timing and tempo of progress toward the mature state and varies considerably among individuals; variation in progress toward the mature state over time implies variation in the rate of change. Two children may be the same size but at different points on the path to adult size or maturity. hood, which includes the preschool years, and middle childhood, which includes the elementary school years, into the 5th or 6th grade. Adolescence is more difficult to define because of variation in its onset and termination, although it is commonly defined as between 10 and 18 years of age (WHO, 1986). The rapid growth and development of infancy continue during early childhood, although at a decelerating rate, whereas middle childhood is a period of slower, steady growth and maturation. Differences between boys and girls are relatively small until adolescence, which is marked by acceler- ated growth and attainment of sexual maturity (Tanner, 1962).

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Relationship to Growth, Development, and Health 103 Across developmental stages, neurological development and control of movement advance in cephalocaudal and proximodistal directions; that is, they advance “head to toe” (cephalocaudal) and “midline to periphery” (proximodistal), while predictable changes in body proportions also occur. For example, the head accounts for 25 percent of recumbent length in an infant and only 15 percent of adult height, while the legs account for 38 percent of recumbent length at birth and 50 percent of adult height. These changes in body proportions occur because body parts grow at dif- ferent rates. From birth to adulthood, as the head doubles in size, the trunk triples in length, and arm and leg lengths quadruple. Coincident with these changes in body proportions, and in part because of them, the capacity to perform various motor tasks develops in a predict- able fashion. For example, running speed increases are consistent with the increase in leg length. Neurological development also determines skill pro- gression. Young children, for example, when thrown a ball, catch it within the midline of the body and do not attempt to catch it outside the midline or to either side of the body. As proximodistal development proceeds, children are better able to perform tasks outside their midline, and by adolescence they are able to maneuver their bodies in a coordinated way to catch objects outside the midline with little effort. Physically active and inactive children progress through identical stages. Providing opportunities for young children to be physically active is important not to affect the stages but to ensure adequate opportunity for skill development. Sound physical education curricula are based on an understanding of growth patterns and developmental stages and are critical to provide appropriate movement experiences that promote motor skill development (Clark, 2005). The mastery of fundamental motor skills is strongly related to physical activity in children and adolescents (Lubans et al., 2010) and in turn may contribute to physical, social, and cognitive development. Mastering fundamental motor skills also is critical to foster- ing physical activity because these skills serve as the foundation for more advanced and sport-specific movement (Clark and Metcalfe, 2002; Hands et al., 2009; Robinson and Goodway, 2009; Lubans et al., 2010). Physical activity programs, such as physical education, should be based on develop- mentally appropriate motor activities to foster self-efficacy and enjoyment and encourage ongoing participation in physical activity. Biological Maturation Maturation is the process of attaining the fully adult state. In growth studies, maturity is typically assessed as skeletal, somatic, or sexual. The same hormones regulate skeletal, somatic, and sexual maturation during adolescence, so it is reasonable to expect the effect of physical activity on

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104 Educating the Student Body these indicators of maturity to be similar. Skeletal maturity is typically assessed from radiographs of the bones in the hand and wrist; it is not influ- enced by habitual physical activity. Similarly, age at peak height velocity ­ (the most rapid change in height), an indicator of somatic maturity, is not affected by physical activity, nor is the magnitude of peak height velocity, which is well within the usual range in both active and inactive youth. Discussions of the effects of physical activity on sexual maturation more often focus on females than males and, in particular, on age at menarche (first menses). While some data suggest an association between later men- arche and habitual physical activity (Merzenich et al., 1993), most of these data come from retrospective studies of athletes (Clapp and Little, 1995). Whether regular sports training at young ages before menarche “delays” menarche (later average age of menarche) remains unclear. While menarche occurs later in females who participate in some sports, the available data do not support a causal relationship between habitual physical activity and later menarche. Puberty is the developmental period that represents the beginning of sexual maturation. It is marked by the appearance of secondary sex characteristics and their underlying hormonal changes, with accompany- ing sex differences in linear growth and body mass and composition. The timing of puberty varies, beginning as early as age 8 in girls and age 9 in boys in the United States and as late as ages 13-15 (NRC/IOM, 1999). Recent research suggests that the onset of puberty is occurring earlier in girls today compared with the previous generation, and there is specula- tion that increased adiposity may be a cause (Bau et al., 2009; Rosenfield et al., 2009). Conversely, some data suggest that excess adiposity in boys contributes to delayed sexual maturation (Lee et al., 2010). Pubescence, the earliest period of adolescence, generally occurs about 2 years in advance of sexual maturity. Typically, individuals are in the secondary school years during this period, which is a time of decline in habitual physical activity, especially in girls. Physical activity trends are influenced by the develop- ment of secondary sex characteristics and other physical changes that occur during the adolescent growth spurt, as well as by societal and cultural fac- tors. Research suggests that physical inactivity during adolescence carries over into adulthood (Malina, 2001a,b; CDC, 2006). It is critical that adolescents be offered appropriate physical activity programs that take into account the physical and sociocultural changes they are experiencing so they will be inspired to engage in physical activity for a lifetime. As discussed below, adequate physical activity during puberty may be especially important for optimal bone development and prevention of excess adiposity, as puberty is a critical developmental period for both the skeleton and the adipose organ.

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Relationship to Growth, Development, and Health 105 Adolescence is the transitional period between childhood and adult- hood. The adolescent growth spurt, roughly 3 years of rapid growth, occurs early in this period. An accelerated increase in stature is a hallmark, with about 20 percent of adult stature being attained during this period. Along with the rapid increase in height, other changes in body propor- tions occur that have important implications for sports and other types of activities offered in physical education and physical activity programs. As boys and girls advance through puberty, for example, biacromial breadth (shoulder width) increases more in boys than in girls, while increases in bicristal breadth (hip width) are quite similar. Consequently, hip-shoulder width ratio, which is similar in boys and girls during childhood, decreases in adolescent boys while remaining relatively constant in girls (Malina et al., 2004). Ratios among leg length, trunk length, and stature also change during this period. Prior to adolescence, boys have longer trunks and shorter legs than girls (Haubenstricker and Sapp, 1980). In contrast, adolescent and adult females have shorter legs for the same height than males of equal stature. Body proportions, particularly skeletal dimensions, are unlikely to be influenced by physical activity; rather, body proportions influence performance success, fitness evaluation, and the types of activities in which a person may wish to engage. For example, there is evidence that leg length influences upright balance and speed (Haubenstricker and Sapp, 1980). Individuals who have shorter legs and broader pelvises are better at balancing tasks than those with longer legs and narrower pelvises, and longer legs are associated with faster running times (Dintiman et al., 1997). Also, longer arms and wider shoulders are advantageous in throwing tasks (Haubenstricker and Sapp, 1980), as well as in other activities in which the arms are used as levers. According to Haubenstricker and Sapp (1980), approximately 25 percent of engagement in movement-related activities can be attributed to body size and structure. Motor Development Motor development depends on the interaction of experience (e.g., practice, instruction, appropriate equipment) with an individual’s physical, cognitive, and psychosocial status and proceeds in a predictable fashion across developmental periods. Clark and Metcalfe (2002) provide an elo- quent metaphor—“the mountain of motor development”—to aid in under- standing the global changes seen in movement across the life span. Early movements, critical for an infant’s survival, are reflexive and dominated by biology, although environment contributes and helps shape reflexes. This initial reflexive period is followed quickly by the preadapted period, which begins when an infant’s movement behaviors are no longer reflex- ive and ends when the infant begins to apply basic movement skills (e.g.,

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106 Educating the Student Body crawling, rolling, standing, and walking) that generally are accomplished before 12 months of age. The period of fundamental motor patterns occurs approximately between the ages of 1 and 7 years, when children begin to acquire basic fundamental movement skills (e.g., running, hopping, s ­ kipping, jumping, leaping, sliding, galloping, throwing, catching, kicking, dribbling, and striking). Practice and instruction are key to learning these skills, and a great deal of time in elementary school physical education is devoted to exploration of movement. Around age 7, during the so-called context-specific period of motor development, children begin to refine basic motor skills and combine them into more specific movement patterns, ulti- mately reaching what has been called skillfulness. Compensation, the final period of motor development, occurs at varying points across the life span when, as a result of aging, disease, injury, or other changes, it becomes necessary to modify movement. While all children need not be “expert” in all movement skills, those who do not acquire the fundamental motor skills will likely experience dif- ficulty in transitioning their movement repertoire into specific contexts and engagement in physical activity (Fisher et al., 2005; Barnett et al., 2009; Cliff et al., 2009; Robinson et al., 2012). A full movement repertoire is needed to engage in physical activities within and outside of the school setting. Thus, beyond contributing to levels of physical activity, physical education programs should aim to teach basic fundamental motor skills and their application to games, sports, and other physical activities, espe- cially during the elementary years (i.e., the fundamental motor patterns and context-specific periods). At the same time, it is important to be mindful of the wide interindividual variation in the rate at which children develop motor skills, which is determined by their biological makeup, their rate of physical maturation, the extent and quality of their movement experiences, and their family and community environment. An increasing amount of evidence suggests that people who feel com- petent in performing physical skills remain more active throughout their lives (Lubans et al., 2010). Conversely, those who are less skilled may be hesitant to display what they perceive as a shortcoming and so may opt out of activities requiring higher levels of motor competence (Stodden et al., 2008). Children who are less physically skillful tend to be less active than their skillful counterparts (Wrotniak et al., 2006; Williams et al., 2008; Robinson et al., 2012) and thus have a greater risk of overweight and obesity (Graf et al., 2004). Fundamental skills are the building blocks of more complex actions that are completed in sports, physical activities, and exercise settings. For example, throwing is a fundamental skill that is incorporated into the context-specific throw used in activities such as handball, softball, and water polo. Fundamental skills are of primary interest to both physical education teachers and coaches, and physical

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Relationship to Growth, Development, and Health 107 education classes should be designed to challenge learners to develop their motor skills. In 1998 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity organized a workshop to determine future directions for research on physical activity. The work- shop convened 21 experts from a wide range of academic disciplines. One recommendation resulting from the proceedings was for future research to describe the temporal relationship between motor development and physi- cal activity (Fulton et al., 2001), signifying the importance of better under- standing of the nature of the relationship between motor competence and physical activity. The assumption of this relationship is implied in multiple models of motor development (Seefeldt, 1980; Clark and Metcalfe, 2002; Stodden et al., 2008), which emphasize the importance of motor compe- tence as a prerequisite for engagement in physical activity throughout the life span. Two models that are commonly used to examine this relationship are Seefeldt’s (1980) hierarchical order of motor skills development and the dynamic association model of Stodden and colleagues (2008). Seefeldt proposed a hierarchical order of motor skills development that includes four levels: reflexes, fundamental motor skills, transitional motor skills (i.e., fundamental motor skills that are performed in various combinations and with variations and that are required to participate in entry-level orga- nized sports, such as throwing for distance, throwing for accuracy, and/or catching a ball while in motion), and specific sports skills and dances. With improved transitional motor skills, children are able to master complex motor skills (e.g., those required for playing more complex sports such as football or basketball). At the end of this developmental period, children’s vision is fully mature. The progression through each level occurs through developmental stages as a combined result of growth, maturation, and experience. Seefeldt hypothesized the existence of a “proficiency barrier” between the fundamental and transitional levels of motor skills develop- ment. If children are able to achieve a level of competence above the proficiency barrier, they are more likely to continue to engage in physical activity throughout the life span that requires the use of fundamental motor skills. Conversely, less skilled children who do not exceed the proficiency barrier will be less likely to continue to engage in physical activity. Thus, it is assumed that “a confident and competent mover will be an active mover” (Clark, 2005, p. 44). For example, to engage successfully in a game of handball, baseball, cricket, or basketball at any age, it is important to reach a minimum level of competence in running, throwing, catching, and striking. The assumption of the existence of a relationship between motor competence and physical activity is at the “heart of our physical education programs” (Clark, 2005, p. 44). A thorough understanding of how this

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