Research article
Volume 3, No. 2, 2011, 1-18
Eloisa Lorente* and Alfredo Joven
National Institut of Physical Education of Catalonia
University of Lleida, Spain
The article intends to show the impact of a pedagogical proposal in Physical Education (PE). The
proposal was focussed on autonomy, personal and social responsibility, and decision-making in
order to prepare the individual to be able to keep an active lifestyle, in terms of exercising, after
finishing compulsory education. This proposal could be considered as an interactive teaching
model (Blanchard, 2009) in which the students play an active and reflexive role in all the
decisions taken during the teaching-learning process. Also, it shares aspects with the Sport
Education model by Daryl Siedentop and the Social and Personal Responsibility model by Don
Hellison. The research is a longitudinal study that used an ethnographic methodology to study
the teaching-learning process of a mixed group of 25 students led by a PE teacher at a school in
CataluÒa, Spain. The aim was to learn about studentsí opinion on their learning in PE lessons,
their current exercise habits and their own autonomy and initiative to keep on exercising. The
results show that the specific learning environment, the personality of the teacher, the teacher-
student relationship, the strategies and the contents had had a significant impact on students. This
impact exceeded any expectations related to concepts of physically active lifestyles and it
included aspects of social awareness, responsibility, respect, empathy and recognition of the
importance of PE in their lives.
Keywords: autonomy, responsibility, independent learning, physical education, self-management
According to the guidelines provided by the government of Catalonia
(in Catalan,
Orientacions per al desplegament curricular díEducaciÛ FÌsica -Generalitat de CataluÒa, 2010),
autonomy is understood as the acquisition of tools and strategies to learn while being aware of
* Corresponding author. National Institut of Physical Education of Catalonia, University of Lleida, Spain, Partida
Caparrella, s/n, 25192 Lleida, Catalonia, Spain, e-mail: elorente@inefc.es
© 2010 Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
E. Lorente and A. Joven
oneís own learning process. Autonomy must be an essential ability to help people to sort out new
situations and experiences beyond the school environment, it must help people to adjust to the
sudden changes of the current world (Kesten, 1987). The person who wants to cope well with
this changing world will have to be able to develop a number of individual, social and moral
skills as well as tools. As an individual, he or she will have to be able to learn on his or her own,
to find out information and to make decisions. These skills will help a person to improve his or
her self-esteem and to satisfy the need of freedom and the need of being responsible for oneís
own life. As an individual in society, a person will be involved in different situations such as
agreeing or negotiating with others, defending ideas or living with someone else (Savater, 1997).
These ideas, which are present in nearly all education curricula in any democratic society, agree
on a main goal which is to prepare young people for lifelong learning and to be responsible
citizens in a democratic society. Achieving this goal means, for instance, to present situations
throughout schooling which allow the student to feel that he or she is the protagonist of his or her
own learning process.
The significance of these ideas for physical education can be considered from two points
of view: 1) the role of P.E. in the school curriculum and its contribution to the education of
citizens, 2) the role of longitudinal studies as a way of accountability.
With respect to the first point, it is necessary to mention that P.E. plays an important role
in the education of children and young people. If we consider that our current society promotes a
physically active lifestyle and that it is accepted that this culture of exercising contributes to a
better quality of life, then participating in this culture will require competences which need to be
taught. This would justify the role of P.E. at schools in preparing the students for individual
autonomy, for an active lifestyle and for being part of a culture of movement (Crum, 1994).
In addition to this, it seems that there is some consensus among the professionals of P.E.
in terms of considering that this subject plays a fundamental role in promoting a physically
active lifestyle throughout the life cycle. This has become evident not only by the curricular
display in most curriculaÜ but also at a political level in Europe by the European Parliament
resolution of 13 November 2007 which says:
ì...physical education is the only school subject which seeks to prepare children for a healthy lifestyle and
focuses on their overall physical and mental development, as well as imparting important social values
such as fairness, self-discipline, solidarity, team spirit, tolerance and fair play,...î
Nonetheless, it is also important to be self-critical. There is not much evidence of the real
contribution of the subject on this matter. Surveys conducted over the last 50 years about the
habits of the adult population reveal that only a small proportion is physically active and even a
smaller proportion keeps playing sports and games learnt at school (Engstrˆm, L. M., 2009;
Kirk, 2011). According to this information, it seems that current P.E. is not achieving the
expected results despite having qualified professionals (Kirk, 2011), which means that it is
necessary to review the teaching of P.E. in schools. Kirk advocates a radical change in the mid
and long term if we do not want P.E. to disappear from the curriculum for not being able to
account for the responsibilities assigned. This radical change should consider three different
aspects of P.E. teaching: 1) the student centred learning, 2) inclusion and motivation, and 3)
working with pedagogical models which research has demonstrated to be effective such as Sport
Ü For example, it is significative the expression from Cataloniaís self-government in 2010 (Orientacions per al
desplegament curricular díEF CataluÒa): ìIn this new frame of skills in the curricula, P.E. plays an essential role
since its aims are to prepare students for a healthy lifestyle and to develop multiple possibilities of physical activities
for life. In this way, it is important to highlight the instrumental nature of the subject (...) During the initial
mandatory stage of P.E., the foundations for acquiring and consolidating healthy routines by physical activity and
sports must be laid.î.
The impact of PE on studentsí everyday life
Education by Daryl Siedentop, Social and Personal Responsibility by Don Hellison, Education
for Peace by Cathy Ennis and Teaching Games for Understanding by Bunker and Thorpe.
In the last years the expectations on P.E. have increased considerably because of the
benefits which have been attributed to the subject, for instance, cognitive benefits, social and
emotional benefits as well as self-esteem and health. However, achieving these benefits will
depend on achieving other aspects such as a high level of autonomy and responsibility for oneís
own habits in life. It is essential that P.E. works towards attaining this aim and it is also essential
to assess the proposals or models from a longitudinal study perspective in the long term.
Hence, regarding the consequences which these ideas have on the research of the
processes, we could say that it is necessary to use longitudinal studies which allow studying in
depth the transference of the learning and the impact of the models in question in peopleís life.
Only in this way it will be possible to provide some justified answers about in which way the
teacher can plan a lesson which fosters and encourages the development of autonomy and
personal and social responsibility.
In this paper, it will be shown the results of a longitudinal research conducted on a
teaching proposal of P.E. whose aim is to promote independent learning, and it will be analysed
the influence that has had on adopting physically active lifestyles.
Necessary conditions for independent learning
We could define independent learning as the learning in which a student can make the
necessary decisions to fulfil oneís own learning needs with the help of other relevant elements
(Kesten, 1987). In this process, the student develops the values, attitudes, knowledge and skills
which allow a responsible decision-making and to act on oneís own learning process.
Independent learning is an aspiration which is shared by all plural and democratic
societies at nearly every level of education. Every element involved in the education of a person
is responsible for developing this skill but specially the family and the school. In this article, we
will particularly focus on the schoolís responsibility because it is important to respect what most
of school teaching projects express in their purposes and because as teachers we believe that
teaching is not just about transferring knowledge but creating the possibilities to produce it or to
build it, as Freire believed (1998). It is important that students become the producers of their
understanding of the world instead of being merely recipients of what a teacher transmits. From
this point of view, the teacherís role will be orientated to creating opportunities and experiences
which encourages studentsí participation in matters that affect them, thus, fostering tolerance
over different opinions and their responsibility in the institutions and the society where they
belong. All this within a comfortable emotional atmosphere where there are stable patterns and
everyone feels accepted (Puig y MartÌnez, 1989; MartÌnez y Bujons, 2001; RodrÌguez Moreno,
Experiences which encourage decision-making and responsibility must be at the core of
pedagogy of autonomy because the only way to learn to make decisions is by doing so, (Freire,
1998). Furthermore, the decision to accept the consequences of oneís own decisions is part of the
learning process. There is no decision without consequences whether these are clearly expected,
roughly expected or completely unexpected. For this reason, decision-making is a responsible
The implications of these ideas on teaching will be focused on the observation of
studentsí autonomy in any teaching activity. Autonomy is acquired throughout education, every
time one learns a new skill, it becomes oneís own skill and it is used in other new situations. A
learning process can only be liberating if we can transfer what we learn. Only a teaching process
in which its acquisitions can be used with no monitoring from the teacher and outside the
learning environment allows a truly liberation of the subject (Reboul, 1972, 1999).
E. Lorente and A. Joven
Nonetheless, despite it might be obvious to say that what schools offer is meant to be
useful afterwards, and not just to pass an exam, apparently this is not so obvious. According to
ìEvery teacher assumes that students will learn something which will be useful later on at their own
initiative and in unpredicted situations...We assume that this is going to happen but neither we can estimate
the implications nor establish if it certainly happens, in a spontaneous and easy wayî (Meirieu, 1998:112).
Therefore, it is important to consider the idea of the transference during the learning
process. This will be possible if we are willing to allow the student to become aware of:
one's own knowledge
what is that knowledge for
what to do with that piece of knowledge
how to use it
how to take ownership of that piece of knowledge
how to recreate it in different new situations
But this will only happen if we can build bridges between the learning in class and the
psychological, social, technical and cultural background of the child (Meirieu, 1998).
The independent learning is also an interactive process between teacher and student
which fosters the intellectual development and independent and reflexive thinking skills.
According to Blanchard (2009) if a teacher clearly expresses his or her expectations, the culture
of the class tends to be transparent, but if teacher and students express and share their
expectations, then the culture is not only transparent but also interactive. When the aim is the
interaction, then the student becomes an essential part of the decision-making with the support of
the teacher. In this way, an interactive model is more receptive to the perceptions and
preferences of the students and it also fosters autonomy and responsibility.
The features of the interactive teaching model can be analysed from the following
aspects: a) the learning environment, b) the teacher-student relationship, and c) the learning
strategies used in the learning activities.
As regards the learning environment, a flexible and democratic atmosphere which is
sensitive to the studentsí needs benefits independent learning. It is preferable when teachers and
management are involved in fostering this learning environment. Also, it is necessary to start
with independent learning gradually and to give more responsibilities to students in the decision-
making about the process of the lesson progressively. For students to take ownership of the
project, it is important how the task is presented for which a cooperative educational
environment which recognises the importance of students needs is preferable to an authoritarian
or permissive learning environment (Ayuste, Flecha et al., 1994). The role of the teacher is to
facilitate the learning by working together with the students and being always available (Rogers,
1986; Lobrot, 1980; Ayuste and Flecha, 1994; Meirieu, 1998; Van Manen, 1998).
As regards the second aspect about the teacher-student relationship, we share Rogersí
views (1986) when he says that it must be based on authenticity, acceptance, appreciation, trust
and empathy. It must be based on a dialogue and on the one to one relation (Ayuste, Flecha et al.,
1994). The teacher must be a committed, passionate, encouraging and assertive person -in a way
that he or she becomes a safe and consistent role model- who cares for the students. The teacher
must be open to listening and to discussing. It is important to establish meaningful relationships
without intending to be another teenager because the teacher guides, shows paths and entrusts
responsibilities (Florence, Brunelle y Carlier, 2000:49). The teacher must be involved in the
The impact of PE on studentsí everyday life
process and he or she must transmit his or her passion for teaching thus the student can perceive
and take the enthusiasm and motivation from the teacher (Aebli, 1991).
Our third aspect is about the characteristics of the activities. It is worth to mention the
results from Banduraís research
(1997) about what do effective teachers do to organise
accessible and motivating learning activities. According to Banduraís research, they organise
enjoyable activities which present personal challenges by setting goals. Also, there is a variety of
activities which encourage taking personal responsibility for the achievement and providing
feedback about the progress. Likewise, Carr (2004) highlights that authentic and interesting tasks
help students to make associations to their own lives. Accessible and clear tasks facilitate the
students the understanding of what they need to do thus keeping them engage for longer.
Furthermore, the students enjoy when they manage to achieve challenging and engaging tasks
and the cooperative tasks allow them to share experiences and ideas.
In the following section, it will be briefly shown the main ideas of some of the models
which are focused on autonomy and responsibility.
Teaching models that foster independent learning and responsibility
Among the models that emphasise independent learning, and personal and social
responsibility, we would like to highlight Institutional Pedagogy [in French, La PÈdagogie
Institutionnelle], whose main representative is Michel Lobrot and which saw its most successful
period during the 80s. Also, we would like to mention Sport Education by Darly Siedentop and
Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility (TPSR) by Don Hellison particularly in Physical
Michel Lobrotís Institutional Pedagogy carries out the idea of the students being
responsible to the very end. He proposes a self-management model beginning in the classroom
and reaching the whole scholastic institution hence its name Institutional Pedagogy. Students
have a high level of participation in decision-making across all management areas, i.e. from
deciding what to learn, how and when to do so up to organisational issues in the school (Lobrot,
1980). The teacher is available for the students whenever they decide they need the teacherís
We also would like to highlight some models which specifically address the issue of
studentsí responsibility in decision-making in P.E. First of all, the Sport Education model which
is rooted in games and sports and according to its author, Daryl Siedentop it is:
ì(Ö) a curriculum and instructional model designed to provide authentic, educationally rich sport
experiences for girls and boys in the context of school physical education (Ö) Students participate in
seasons that are often two to three times longer than typical physical education units. Students become
members of teams immediately, and this affiliation allows students to plan, practice, and compete together,
as well as benefit from all the social development opportunities that accompany membership in a persisting
group. A schedule of competition is organized at the outset, which allows learners to practice and play
within a predictable schedule of fair competition. A culminating event marks the end of the season and
provides both the occasion to mark progress and the opportunity to celebrate successes. Records are kept
and used for purposes of motivation, feedback, assessment, and the building of standards and traditions.
The entire season is festive with continuous efforts made to celebrate successî. (Siedentop, 2002:409).
Something that especially characterises this model is that students go beyond adopting a
simple performer role since in each term they learn and adopt different roles such as referee,
score keeper and performance statistics keeper. Over different terms, they will have adopted the
roles of coach, manager, team publicity director and team trainer.
The aim of this model is to support students to become people who are competent, literate
and enthusiastic sportspersons. This is also important for its similarity to the proposal studied in
E. Lorente and A. Joven
this research. In both models, the students learn from their peers in the context of being members
of a team, which is an example of peer tutoring and self-management.
By the 90s, there were over 50 studies on this model and at the beginning of following
decade it had already been tested by a great number of teachers all over the world (Siedentop,
2002). The results of these studies show how ìthe teachers recognized the gains being made by
students and also valued the manner in which students took responsibility for their own sport
participation, freeing the teacher from typical managing duties and allowing him or her to
interact with students more around the substantive issues of the season (Grant, 1992; according
to Siedentop, 2002). Currently this model is spreading in terms of both practice and research
(Hastie, 2011).
The second model that we would like to highlight is Teaching Personal and Social
Responsibility (TPSR) proposed by Don Hellison in 1978, which is still in use and is subject of
research after 40 years of its creation.
The main aspects of this models are: a) teaching skills and values for life must be
integrated into physical activities and must not be taught separately; b) lessons learnt in the gym
must be taught for them to be transferred to the participantsí life afterwards; c) teaching
strategies must be based on the gradual change of responsibility from the teacher -or leader- to
the participant; d) for succeeding in these, the teacher must acknowledge and respect the
individuality, the strengths, opinions and the ability for decision-making of each participant.
In this way, Hellison decided to develop a set of alternative goals for physical education
which were more focused on human needs and values, than only on a physical aspect and sport
1985, Tinning,
1992). The model is designed with the aim of providing
adolescents and young people, particular those at social risk, experiences of success which will
foster the development of personal and social skills and social responsibility both in sports and in
life. According to TPSR there are two values associated with personal development and well-
being which are effort and self-management. There are also two values associated with
development and social integration; these are respect for the feelings and rights of others, and the
ability to listen and to be in someone elseís place, respectively. When adolescents can
understand these values and behave accordingly, they have reached what this model define as the
level of personal and social responsibility (EscartÌ, GutiÈrrez, Pascual, MarÌn, MartÌnez, &
ChacÛn, 2006)
In the 40 years of existence of this model, there have been many experiences and
numerous studies about its application and its impact on young people at social risk. Despite
some claims about methodological gaps in its application, there is some agreement on its
benefits. According to research, there is evidence of improvements in self-control behaviour and
a decrease in anti-sport behaviours (Ceccini, Montero y PeÒa, 2003). There is also evidence of an
increase in self-directed behaviours, as well as, an increase in helping others, in decision-making
and in taking on responsibility
(DeBusk and Hellison,
1989). Furthermore, it improves
interpersonal relationships and team work, among other skills (Hellison and Walsh, 2002:333).
Nonetheless, research also found out that there are difficulties to achieve some of the
goals of this model such as the difficulty to establish personal goals (Martinek, Schilling and
Johnson, 2001).
As we will show below, the proposal studied in this research presents characteristics from
the models described above.
The impact of PE on studentsí everyday life
An interactionist educational ethnography from a naturalistic standpoint (Lincoln and
Guba, 1985; Rodriguez, Gil and Garcia, 1996) has guided the research of an unique and intrinsic
longitudinal case of 12 years long (Bodgan and Biklen, 1982; Stake, 1998). The educational
ethnography approach allows reconstructing the life of a social group from gathering valuable
first-hand information such as descriptions of contexts, activities in which members of a group
take part and the groupís belief (Goetz and Lecompte, 1988). In this particular case, it allowed
understanding and reconstructing the teaching-learning process conducted by a teacher with his
class. The requirements of Spindler and Spindler for executing a good ethnography (1992) have
been considered in the design of this research.
Symbolic interactionism has been the theoretical framework for this study. This approach
allows attributing great importance to the social meanings that people assign to their worlds
(Blumer, 1969; Taylor and Bodgan, 1986). This research complied with the methodology that
Woods (1998) proposed for using interactionism (Lorente, 2005, 150).
The study took place at a private school of a not too big city -120.000 inhabitants- in
CataluÒa, Spain. The study focused on one P.E. teacher with the same mixed class of 25
children. This teacher had a degree in P.E. and a varied professional experience in the fields of
sports and P.E. activities. He was a highly motivated teacher with good communication skills
who had been influenced by the ideas of critical pedagogy.
During the first year of this research, two observers attended all the lessons in which it
was carried out the experience of self-management. Over the following years, only the main
researcher collected information about the development of the proposal.
The teaching model of the teacher can be described as an interactive model as it is
explained by Blanchard (2009). However, the study focuses on his teaching proposal which he
names as self-management. In this proposal, the students became the protagonists, they proposed
an activity and they decided on it with their classmates and the teacher. Once the activity was
agreed, they designed it and executed it and at the end of the lesson there was a reflection, which
started with a self-assessment and finished with constructive comments from classmates. In other
words, for one day the students took the role of the teacher in which they were responsible for
the design, the organisation and the management of the class. Here we would be talking about a
teaching activity which stresses independent and cooperative learning, personal and social
responsibilities, and critical thinkingá.
The research is divided in three stages (figure 1):
a) The first stage corresponds to the first four years of Secondary Education from 1995 to
1999. The first academic year ñfrom 1995 to 1996- was characterized by intensive
observation of classes devoted to self-management, which took place during the last
quarter. At the beginning of this research, the students were 13 years of age. From 1996
á For more information about the characteristics and working of the proposal see: Lorente, E. (2008). ìEstimular la
responsabilidad y la iniciativa: autogestiÛn en EducaciÛn FÌsicaî, Apunts EducaciÛ fÌsica i esport, 92, 2nd trimestre,
E. Lorente and A. Joven
1999, we kept contact with the teacher and the students at different times by
interviews or open questionnaires to gather information about the changes at the
moment of putting this teaching proposal into practice and the studentsí perception
about the proposal itself.
b) The second stage corresponds to contacting the students three year after they left school
and away from the influence of the school and the teacher. In 2003, 9 out 18 students
that finished school were interviewed about their experience in self-management
lessons and whether this had had any impact on their everyday life.
c) The third stage took place 8 years after leaving school, in 2007. An in-depth interview
was conducted to one of the students who now were 25 years old ñ12 years after the
exposure to the first time experience- with the purpose of knowing the impact of the
experience in the long term.
Figure 1. Design of the research
Research questions
The purpose of the whole research was to reconstruct the teaching-learning process as it
was perceived by the participants ñteacher, students and observers-, thus to find out the effects of
the experience years afterwards, away from the school environment.
These are the initial research questions:
How is conducted a pedagogical proposal based on self-management?
How is this perceived and experienced by the participants?
What type of relationships is established during the process?
What do students learn from this process?
What is the purpose of this process according to the students?
The impact of PE on studentsí everyday life
Later on, it was considered interesting to add a final question, in which this paper is based,
to answer from a time perspective:
What impact has this experience had in their lives over time?
Data generation and analysis of information
The procedures and techniques employed to explore the social reality and to gather
information were based on field notes from lesson observations, a log of different particular
situations, semi-structured and non-structured interviews for memory stimulation, in-depth
interviews, recorded log of the reflections at the end of the lessons, school documents, teacherís
documents, studentsí work and open questionnaires (Lorente, 2005, Lorente and Joven, 2009).
Nonetheless, this paper only focuses on 9 semi-structured interviews conducted in 2003,
three years after finishing school and on one in-depth interview conducted 8 years after, in 2007,
to one participant.
In 2003, after 8 years of the first experience of independent learning in 1995, there were
two important aspects to find out. Firstly, how the students used what they had learnt in these
P.E. lessons and particularly during the experience of self-management. Secondly, what
memories they had about it, in order to know what had had a stronger impact on them. Despite
having been an object of study during the whole secondary education, it was more meaningful to
find out about these two issues once the students had left school and had been away from the
influence of the teacher. Nine students who had participated in the experience were selected
randomly to conduct a semi-structured interview with each one of them.
In order to achieve high standards, it has been used four indicators: credibility, transferability,
consistency and neutrality (Lincoln and Guba, 1985). Particularly, methodological and temporal
triangulation and revision have given consistency and credibility to this study.
Impact of the model from a time perspective
In first place, one of the aspects which had the strongest impact on the students was the
close relationship between teacher and students characterised by trust and respect. These are
concepts which were strongly defended by renowned authors such as Freire (1998), Rogers
(1986), Ayuste & Flecha (1994), Meirieu (1998), Aebli (1991) and Florence et al. (2000). This is
how students referred to this:
ìToday I can say that K had a strong influence in my life. In the way he used to talk to us, the way he
taught his lessons, the topics...and ultimately, his way of transmitting values because we always were
present in his decisionsî
(Juan, 21 years old)
ìWe were always at the same level. There wasn't such a thing of teacher and students. It was more like
friend to friend.î (Ana, 22)
Second, the students agree that one of the things that impressed them most was the
possibility to decide and choose what they wanted to learn. The students are motivated when
they have the opportunity to decide about their learning (Ayuste & Flecha, 1994; Fern·ndez-
Balboa, 2002). Furthermore, the fact of becoming involved in the process gives them confidence
in themselves, which confirms the importance of becoming aware of a particular skill to increase
intrinsic motivation thus to develop a lasting behaviour (Kirk, 2010; MacNamara, Collins, Toms,
Ford and Pearce, 2011). The students have said:
E. Lorente and A. Joven
ìIt was really impressive when the teacher asked me what I wanted to do during the P.E. class. Then I
realised that something had changed and things were getting more difficult. Now we had to make decisions
and this is one of the most difficult things in life.î (Pedro, 22)
ìSelf-management is a way of realising that things in life are not ready made for you. You have to work for
it and when you achieve it, you feel much better because you worked for it.î (Toni, 22)
Thirdly, it is important to highlight that the students appreciated the variety and creativity
of the lessons. This matches the results shown by the research about accessible and motivating
learning activities (Bandura, 1997). This was a repeated opinion throughout schooling when
students were asked to describe their ideal P.E. lesson:
ìI remember self-management lessons. I learnt that physical activity is not only about press-ups and
running, there are other ways which are more fun and enjoyable.î (Paula, 21)
Applications of this type of learning and the transference to new situations
According to Reboul (1989), only a teaching process in which its acquisitions can be used
with no monitoring from the teacher and outside the learning environment allows a truly
liberation of the subject. Through the students' opinion, we could corroborate the perception they
had about the reasons for learning a particular subject, its potential applications, and the
transference of this learning to other situations. We compared the reasons given by the students
while they were under the influence of the teacher, with the actual application of that knowledge
in their everyday life. We found out that there were connections between the two; however, there
were also some applications which had not been considered before.
During school, some students said that what they had learnt would be useful for when
they start teaching others. In fact, this could be observed in some cases. For instance, one of the
students said that he puts into practice aspects from self-management and from the teacher-
student relationship with his hockey players:
ìI am studying to be a teacher and a degree in Geography. I am also a hockey coach and everything I learnt
ñ with something else from my own ñ I have been using it with my players. So, a good level of
concentration and a positive attitude towards the game, whether individually or in the team, is achieved by
talking and sharing some constructive comments
similar to what we used to do with teacher K. Our
mentality as individuals, from my viewpoint, it developed and became more mature. I believe that this is a
goal that I always try to achieve by analysis, change and optimisation of possibilities...î (Juan, 21)
Also, another student believed the model shown by the teacher, particularly regarding the
teacher-student relationship. She thought it would be the most appropriate model if one day she
becomes a teacher:
ìI have studied social education and having learnt the way this teacher has dealt with us has given me a role
model for when I become a teacher someday.î (MarÌa, 21)
The students found another useful aspect while they were still in school which was to
consider P.E. in a more positive way than before as a result of changing the concept, something
that repeatedly appeared in the interviews and that it is directly associated with other positive
appreciations such as the enjoyment, keeping a healthy life and developing your mind.
The impact of PE on studentsí everyday life
ìIt has helped me in several ways. I have learned to know that sport is a part of P.E. and not the only thing
in P.E.; so, P.E. turned out to be a good subject and one of the most important subjects to me. I have learnt
to know what is good and bad for my body. I have learnt to be more social and to have a healthy life. I run
out of words when it comes to express what P.E. meant to me in my life.î (Eduardo, 22)
ìYes. I changed my mind. I changed the idea I had about P.E. I still have Kís lessons in my mind which
have been very important, as the day we played bowling. I never thought that we could relate P.E. to
bowling! Also, the good sense of humour. I changed a lot my idea about P.E. and my own practice. It has
helped me appreciate more the meaning and importance that P.E. brings into my life, since it helps me take
care of my health and enjoy it.î(Toni, 21)
The students, who have already completed their studies, talked about other useful aspects,
which by 1999 were only expectations but now these were facts such as increasing self-
confidence and learning from mistakes.
ìIt has helped me to learn that when I set myself a goal, I can achieve it and that I can always learn
something ñgood or bad - from mistakes.î (Montse, 21)
Also they found other useful aspects which they could not foresee while they were in
school, such as time management, i.e. managing free time and obligations.
ìIt has helped me to learn how to organise my time in terms of studying and free time. For example, the
time for studying can be split into three parts: 1) something similar to a warm up session would be reading
about a topic, 2) proper study and then 3) slowing down and relaxation. About my free time, now I get
bored and I am always thinking about what I could do.î (Rosa, 22)
The impact on autonomous practice of physical activity
This research was also designed to find out whether these people had been able to
manage their own physical activities in their everyday life since this had been one of the main
goals of the self-management in P.E. lessons. It is important to take into account that believing
that you can do something it is different from actually doing it, since there may be multiple
reasons that prevent the action. In the same way, there may be many variables which may have
had an influence on the decision of practicing physical activities. Therefore, it is important to be
careful when stating that current habits are a result of previous experience in physical education.
In any case, in the general context of the interviews, they attributed the fact that they currently
practice physical activities to their physical education in school.
Out of the nine former students interviewed, only one said to practice physical activities
on his own -bike or running-, in addition to an organized activity also. From these nine, seven
students used to practice some kind of regular physical activity in an organized way, and two did
not practice any at the time due to lack of time since they were studying a degree, though they
had practiced P.E. during schooling. We wanted to find out whether they were able to practice a
non-organised physical activity. Most said yes, but not any kind of activity. Also it should be
considered that five former students had some experience in working with groups, which would
make it easier to make them feel ready for it.
In the light of this information, we see that the majority preferred an organised activity,
for two reasons: they had the obligation and they could practice it with colleagues or friends [in 4
cases this was a collective activity whereas in 2 cases it was individual] According to what they
said, this physical activity allowed them to relieve tensions and improve endurance as well as
have fun, socialise with friends, and make new friends. In addition, it also allowed them to
unwind, feel good about themselves, burn calories and keep their weight.
E. Lorente and A. Joven
Most claimed to having good habits, which allowed them to lead healthy lives, except
one who acknowledged having some bad habits, but nevertheless, as soon as his fitness declined,
he decided to go to the gym. This person admitted that his habits regarding physical activity had
changed when the habits of his group of friends had changed, which could be an indicator of a
lack of habit.
In 2007, twelve years after the first experience, one of the former students, who had taken
part in the experience, was contacted to participate in an in-depth interview. During this
interview we could corroborate that her memories about this experience were still quite vivid.
She stated that the experience had had an impact on many aspects of her life , which confirmed
what was already mentioned in the results of the previous interviews.
ìYes, I myself have learnt to accept that I need to exercise otherwise I feel tired for no reason and as the
years go by my body feels worse. Despite being young, we must be aware of the importance of exercise or
physical activity and get rid off the myth of the gym, since there are many physical activities which do not
require a close space and you exercise in the same way.î (MarÌa, 25)
Furthermore, we want to highlight that the teacher who had a stronger impact on her life
during school has been her P.E. teacher. As she mentions, there were several reasons for this but
particularly it was the close teacher-student relationship based on respect and empathy and also
his teaching style which was democratic and it was based on autonomy and responsibility.
ìI am not mistaken if I say out loud that my P.E. teacher in the last years of school was the one who had the
strongest impact on me. The reason why... it is difficult to mention one reason only, since there are many
things that I could point out such as when K asked us to call the teacher by the name and not as Mr or
Mrs... I believe that at some point every student is afraid of doing something wrong and of asking the
teacher when they have doubts, but our teacher had a different way of teaching lessons which, I think, was
the secret to have had such a nice atmosphere during lessons. The teacher was not on any higher platform
though we were aware of the difference between the teacher and us. We could give our opinions and share
ideas as well as propose activities, which was something no one had asked us to do before. It wasn't just
about a nice personality, but it was about a new way of teaching. The fact that K could teach us something
and we had the possibility to teach something too, was very important and we can recognise this years
As we mentioned at the beginning of this paper, there is a great consensus among P.E.
professionals in schools in considering P.E. as a subject which must have an important impact on
habits and active lifestyles in adulthood. However, there is also evidence indicating that up until
now P.E. has failed in attaining this goal (Engstrom, 2009; Kirk, 2010). Some authors claim that
many current curricular models in P.E. do not provide children and young people the skills to
keep them involved in sports (MacNamara, Collins, Bailey, Toms, Ford and Pearce, 2011). If so,
the challenge is to research the conditions or features that physical education should have if it
aspires to achieve this goal.
In fact, there is increasing evidence which suggests that the intentions of being physically
active and actually exercising are positively related to intrinsic motivation, where demotivation
and external regulation would represent a negative aspect (MacNamara et al, 2011; Standage,
Duda and Ntoumanis, 2003). This intrinsic motivation or self-determined behaviour takes place
when a person performs an activity with the intention of having a pleasant experience, learning
something new and/or developing a skill (Yli.Piipari, Watt, Jaakkola, Liukkonen and Nurmi,
2009). According to this, it would be evident to conclude that a teacherís role is to develop this
The impact of PE on studentsí everyday life
intrinsic motivation in the students so that they can keep an interest in physical education once
they have finished school and they are away from the teacherís influence, i.e. in adulthood.
Nonetheless, this is just one purpose which requires definition and a precise action plan to be
able to be materialised in practice.
In this way, we find some explicit guidance in Peter Hastieís words (2010) when he
defends that to develop a notion of ëme as a moverí we need to promote positive experiences, a
good perception of oneís own competence and opportunities to engage in physical activity and,
in researching it, matching these characteristics with outside engagement, perceptions of success,
motivation, and the probability of continuous engagement. Also, we find guidance in the words
of David Kirk (2011) who says that to face the challenges of the 21st century we need student-
centred models in P.E. which stress two fundamental concepts which are inclusion and intrinsic
motivation, and the latter begins by having a good perception of oneís own competence.
Sharing some of these ideas as guidance, the case study led us to consider the autonomy
and self-determination of students stressing the methodology rather than the contents.
Nonetheless, the results show these contents had a significant impact since these were different
from what the interviewees were used to do in previous years, and also overcame stereotypes
about physical education. This shows that everything including physical education has suffered
important changes in recent years. There are still some models in our cultural heritage which will
require longer than desired by teachers to be changed. In short, unfortunately 30 years after, we
still need to challenge the so-called Commonsense Consensus, which was mentioned by authors
such as Hargreaves (1997) or Whitehead and Hendry (1976).
Based on this research, we believe that a methodology which considers the studentís
voice enables students to make decisions and to take ownership of their learning process, will
benefit self-confidence and intrinsic motivation, which are needed to consolidate and keep the
behaviour we seek, i.e. positively appreciating physical activity and adopting physical activities
as a habit throughout their lives.
We hope that the results of this longitudinal study will suggest some action plans. As it
has already been mentioned, this research intends to find out the effect or impact of a student-
centred teaching, which focuses on autonomy and personal and social responsibility, on the self-
regulation of the learning process and on the regular practice of physical activity.
We found out that there is a clear increase in awareness and motivation regarding
physical activity. There is greater autonomy to choose the kind of activity and greater confidence
in oneself to self-regulate behaviour when it deviates from the desirable. These findings are
consistent with other research carried out with similar models in different cultural contexts
(Cardon, G. M., Haerens, L. E., Verstraete, S., & de Bourdeaudhuij, I., 2009; Dowda, M. C.,
Sallis, J. F., McKenzie, T. L., Rosengard, P. R. & Kohl, H. W., 2005).
Yet, we still think that it is difficult to answer the question of what kind of physical
education or what pedagogical models can develop the necessary skills to maintain a self-
determined physically active lifestyle. The evidence in this research shows that the learning
environments, the personality of the teacher, the teacher-student relationship, the strategies and
the contents have had a significant impact. This impact exceeded any expectations related to
concepts of physically active lifestyles and it included aspects of social awareness,
responsibility, respect, empathy and recognition of the importance of physical education in their
lives. Some of the interviewees were confident and knew what they wanted though some could
not put it into practice. Some also expressed a clear stance relating integration into social
activities and P.E. lessons.
Finally, we believe that the greater difficulty lies in finding out whether the students
achieved the necessary self-esteem, self-direction and self-determination to participating in
todayís changing society in an effective way, beyond the results of our research. More
E. Lorente and A. Joven
longitudinal studies are necessary to be able to assess the benefits of pedagogical models in the
long term. In this way, we will only be able to find out or obtain a closer answer. In the worst-
case scenario, needs will have changed by then and the models will have become obsolete. Yet,
we are convinced that the attempt is worthwhile.
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We would like to thank the school, the teacher (K.L.) and all the students involved in this
research for their collaboration and support.
Submitted November 8, 2011
Accepted December 15, 2011
Research article
Volume 3, No. 2, 2011, 19-30
Maria Michalopoulou*
Department of Physical Education and Sport Science
Democritus University of Thrace
Vassiliki Zisi
Department of Physical Education and Sport Science
University of Thessaly
Stavroula Stani, Christina Kiriazi and Efthimis Kioumourtzoglou
Department of Physical Education and Sport Science
Democritus University of Thrace
Physical activity (PA) levels of community-dwelling adults aged 60 and over were
assessed in Greece, in order to determine age and gender effects. PA was assessed using the PA
Scale for the Elderly in
591 persons (287 males and 304 females), (Ã=74.04, SD=5.46).
Participants were assigned into two age groups: A=65-75 and B=76-86 years. According to two
way ANOVA, no significant differences were reported in total PA between men and women
(p>.05) even though a significant age effect was reported with participants in Group A having
higher scores than participants in Group B
(p<.001). Men reported greater participation in
recreational activities of moderate intensity (p<.001) and in exercises for muscular strength and
endurance (p<.05). Women were more active in PA related to household (p<.001). Age effects
resulted in favor of older adults in Group A 61-70 years when compared to older adults in Group B
for walking, for recreational activities and for housework (p<.001). In conclusion, both gender
and age affect PA participation of older adults in Greece.
Keywords: elderly, older adults, PASE, PA levels, age and gender effects
According to CDC (2002) PA is any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that
results in an expenditure of energy (expressed in kilocalories) and includes a broad range of
occupational, leisure time and routine daily activities. These activities can require light, moderate
* Corresponding author. Department of Physical Education and Sport Science, Democritus University of Thrace,
Komotini, 69100 Greece, e-mail: michal@phyed.duth.gr
© 2010 Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
M. Michalopoulou et al.
or vigorous effort and can lead to improved health if they are practiced regularly. Numerous
research studies have reported many health and performance related benefits of engaging in
regular PA, particularly for older adults and for the least active segments of the population
(Shephard, 2002). A linear reduction in mortality risk has been suggested with increased levels
of PA in older adults (Dishman, Washburn, & Heath, 2004, Craig, Russell, Cameron, &
Beaulieu, 1997) and a threshold of about 1,000 kcal per week was accompanied by a 20% to
30% reduction in mortality risk (Lee, Hiesh, & Paffenbarger, 1995). Physical inactivity is also
recognized by the AHA and WHO as a major independent risk factor for coronary heart disease
(CHD) (Fletcher et al, 1996; Bijnen, Caspersen, & Mosterd, 1994). Physical inactivity in men
has been strongly related to high risk for CHD (Lakka, et al., 1994; Morris, Clayton, Everit,
Semmence & Burgess, 1990; Paffenbarger, Hyde, Wing & Hsieh, 1986; Paffenbarger et al.,
1993) but on the other hand this relation is less clear for women (Blair, Kohl, & Barlow, 1993;
Haapanen, Miilunpalo, Vuori, Oja & Pasanen, 1997; Sesso, Paffenbarger, Ha & Lee, 1999).
Individuals that developed CHD had lower participation during their free time in PA /sports but
no differences were reported between men and women (Folsom et al., 1997). The importance of
PA for maintaining good health for women has been presented in a longitudinal study where a
negative relation was detected between participation in PA and breast cancer occurrence in
70.000 postmenopausal women (McTierman et al., 2003). PA contributes also in reducing the
occurrence of other cerebrovascular diseases and stroke (Fagard, 2001) and regular PA of
moderate or high intensity may limit the risk for diabetes type II by 25% to 50% (Dishman, et
al., 2004).
Limited PA reflects 50% of the limitations in functional capacity where the other 50% of
the limitations that the older adults face are the result of increasing age (Hirvensalo, Rantanen, &
Heikkinen, 2000). Low levels of PA in older adults lead to limited independence (Gularnik,
Ferruci, Simonsick, Salive & Wallace, 1995) and to increased need for care services (Horgas,
Wilms, & Bates, 1998).
The intensity of PA is considered to play an important role in determining positive health
effects. Participation in vigorous PA (> 6 MET) was associated with a decreased risk in all-cause
mortality, but no benefits were reported for participation in light or moderate intensity PA (Lee,
Hsieh, & Paffenbarger,
1995). Older men that reported participation in vigorous physical
activities (> 8.4 MET) (climbing stairs, organized sports and mountain hiking) had a decreased
mortality risk of
25 % - 30% (Paffenberger, et al.,
1986). Additionally an increase in
participation in PA of older men for the previous five years from ìseldomî to ìvery frequentlyî
resulted in a 44% reduction in all cause mortality risk (Blair, Kohl, & Barlow, 1993).
The content, the intensity and the amount of PA seem to change in relation to the age and
gender of older adults. Previous studies showed rates of physical inactivity are higher for women
when compared to men and for the oldest individuals when compared to younger older adults
(Craig, et al., 1997; Kamimoto, Easton, Maurise, Husten & Macera, 1999; USDHHS, 1999). An
epidemiological study in U.S concerning the prevalence of physical inactivity in adults aged 65
and older reported that 37% of older men and 23% of older women engaged in regular leisure-
time PA ( LTPA = participation for 30 min or more at least 3 times per week during the part 2
weeks). The prevalence of LTPA was lowest for both men and women among those who were
oldest, were black had less education, rated their health as ìfair to poorî had activity limitations,
were smokers, had less exercise knowledge and reported greater stress (Yusuf et al., 1996). In
Canada, the population group of older adults with low income was the least physically active as
well as the fastest growing in number population group (Craig & Cameron, 2002).
In Canada, percentages of older women in comparison to older men were lower for
participation: in vigorous PA (20% women ñ 24% men), in moderate intensity PA (26% women
ñ 27% men), as well as in low intensity PA (19% women ñ 20% men) (Craig, et al., 1997).
Additionally during their free time older men participated more than women in physical
activities (Mensink, Deketh, Mul, Schuit & Haffmeister, 1996).
Physical activity of Greek older adults
The percentage of total population aged 65 and over for Greece has been reported 17.3 %
and it was the second highest percentage in the world after Italy (18.1%), (Kinsella, & Velkoff,
2001). According to previous studies performed in Greece women in a family setting that take
care of others were the least physically active segment of the population, with the lowest
percentage of participation in recreational physical activities (Alexandris, & Caroll, 1998).
According to Harahousou & Kambitsis (1993), limited participation in PA reported by Greek
older adults is related to social and educational factors that exclude participation in sports and
PA from their lifestyle. In particular older women had the lowest scores in participation in sports
and recreational physical activities and instead preferred to participate in physical activities of
daily living of low intensity, to watch TV, to visit friends and attend mass. The results of a more
resent study in Greece (Michalopoulou, Zisi, Malliou & Godolias, 2004) suggested that older
adults participated in activities of low intensity (housework and walking) and reach the levels of
moderate to low PA. Until today no data was available concerning age and gender effects on the
patterns of PA of older adults in Greece using a self report measure. The aim of the present study
was to assess PA participation of older adults in Greece and determine possible age and gender
effects in relation to the intensity and the content of the physical activities.
Subjects in this study were 591 older adults aged M 74.04, SD = 5.46 years, 287 males
(M = 74.54 + 5.54 years) and 304 females (M = 73.56 + 5.35 years). For the purpose of this
study subjects formed 2 age groups A = 65-75 and B = 76 - 86 years. Participants were randomly
selected to take part in this study and they were residents of different areas of Greece (Attika,
Hlia, Rodopi, Arta and Xanthi). They were recruited through Local Recreational Centers for the
Elderly that exist in every Greek City.
Weight and height were measured to the nearest 0.1 Kg and to the nearest 0.01 m
respectively using a wall-mounted stadiometer. Table 1. includes age and physical characteristics
of the older men and women that participated in this study.
Table 1
Age and physical characteristics of the male and female participants
Group A
Group B
Age (years)
74.54 ± 5.54
70.29 ± 3.08
79.39 ± 3.30
Weight (kg)
80.19 ± 12.71
79.23 ± 12.10
81.28 ± 13.34
Height (m)
1.68 ± 0.71
1.69 ± 0.07
1.68 ± 0.07
28.38 ± 4.15
28.19 ± 4.06
28.58 ± 4.26
M. Michalopoulou et al.
Table 1 (continued)
Group A
Group B
Age (years)
73.56 ± 5.35
70.24 ± 3.24
79.01 ± 3.24
Weight (kg)
74.52 ± 12.43
74.38 ± 10.58
74.75 ± 15.05
Height (m)
1.58 ± 0.12
1.59 ± 0.07
1.58 ± 0.17
29.36 ± 4.56
29.39 ± 3.94
29.31 ± 5.45
Instruments and Procedures
Physical Activity Scale of the Elderly
Physical Activity Scale of the Elderly (PASE; Washburn, Smith, Jette & Janney, 1993) is
a 12 item scale that measures the average number of hours per day spent participating in leisure,
household and occupational physical activities over the previous
7 day period. Under the
category of leisure time activity, frequency and duration of participation in the following five
activities were assessed: walking outside the home, light sport/recreation moderate
sport/recreation strenuous sport/recreation and muscle strength/endurance exercises. Frequency
of participation was assessed by asking respondents how often they are engaged in the activity
over the part week. They responded using the following 4-point scale: 0= never; 1= seldom/1-2d;
2 = sometimes/3-4d; and 3 = often/5-7d. Duration was assessed by asking participants on the
average, how many hours per day they spent on that activity. Responses were indicated using a 4
point scale: 1 = less than 1 h; 2 = 1 but less than 2h; 3 = 2- 4 h and 4 = more than 4h. By using a
conversion table
(Washburn, & Flicker,
1999) those categorical indices of frequency and
duration were used to calculate the average daily frequency of participation for each activity. To
ensure that participants correctly classified their sport and recreational activities as light,
moderate or strenuous participants recorded the specific activities in which they participated.
Under the category of household physical activities, participation in six activities was assessed:
light housework, heavy housework or chores, home repairs, lawn work or yard care, outdoor
gardening and caring for another person. Using a binary scale (2= yes, 1 = no) respondents
indicated whether they engaged in these behaviors over the past 7 days. Under the category of
work related PA participants indicated whether they worked for pay or as a volunteer (1 yes 0 =
no). The total PASE score can be computed by multiplying the amount of time spent in each
activity (hr/week) by the item weights and summing over all activities. The item weights are
originally based on comparison with physical activities estimated with 3-day motion sensor
counts, 3-day PA diary and global activity assessment (Washburn et al., 1993). The validity of
this questionnaire has been reported as good (r =.65) and the reliability also (r = .75) (Washburn,
& Flicker, 1999). Gender specific correlation coefficients have been reported 0.79 for men and
0.68 for women
(Schuit, Schouten, Westerterp, & Saris,
1997). The reliability of this
questionnaire in Greek population has been tested in a pilot study where 15 older men and 15
women were tested twice with a period of three weeks and it was proven very good (r = .79)
(Michalopoulou et al., 2006).
Physical activity of Greek older adults
In order to obtain the data all questionnaires were completed using face to face interview
technique after asking for verbal and written ñsigned consent from the participants. The
collection of data included initially the completion of the questionnaire related to
sociodemographic information. A second questionnaire was used to obtain information related to
health status. Chronic illness was assessed be 12 specific disease questions (yes ñ no form).
Anthropometrical data was then collected as weight (0.1 Kg) and height (0.01m). Data collection
was completed with the completion of the PA Scale for the elderly. When participants had
limited reading and/or writing skills the interviewer completed the questionnaires for them. All
data collection tool place in a separate room in the local Recreational Center for the Elderly that
exists in every Greek city and its duration never exceeded 30 min.
Analysis of Data
Descriptive statistics (mean values and frequency analysis) were performed on physical
and demographic characteristics of the participants. Two -way Analysis of Variance (2 x 2) was
used in order to assess ìageî and ìgenderî effects on total PA score. A Two ñway MANOVA
was used to assess ìageî and ìgenderî effects on the following dependent variables: walking,
light PA related to sports/recreation, moderate PA related to sports/recreation, strenuous PA
related to sports/recreation, PA related to muscle strength and endurance exercises and PA
related to housework or chores and taking care of others. The level of significance was set at p =
According to the results of frequency analysis 18.7% of the participants were high-school
65.1% of the participants were elementary school graduates and
16.2% of the
participants had not completed the primary level of education. Only 1.8 % of the participants
were still working and 98.2% were retired. Additionally 37.2% of the participants were in the
past working in professions that included strenuous PA
(e.g. farmer, construction worker,
industrial worker) 22.5% were involved in professions that required moderate physical effort
(e.g. postman, waiter, machinery operator),
16.9% of the participants were involved in
professions that included sitting and/or standing light physical effort (e.g. cashier, office clerk
with general responsibilities) and 13.4% of them were involved in professions that included only
sitting activities (e.g. driver, office clerk, office supervisor). The majority of the participants
were married 63.6%, 27.6% were widowed, 5.5% were divorced and 3.3% had never married.
Health status was considered very good for 12.1% of the participants, good for 31.7%, fair for
27.8% and bad for 28.4% of the participants.
Age and gender effects in Physical Activity
In order to determine age and gender effects a two-way ANOVA (age groups: ¡= 65-75,
and ¬ 76-86 years by gender: men, women) was performed on the dependent variable of total
PA. According to the results of the analysis no significant interaction was reported for the factors
ìageî and ìgenderî (F1,587= 1.312, p>.05, Á2=.20). The factor ìageî had a significant main effect
(F1,587 = 71,118, p<.001, Á2 = .11) with participants in group A being significantly more active
when compared to participants in group B (Graph 1). On the contrary no significant main effect
was also revealed for the factor ìgenderî (F1,587 = 0.51, p>.05, Á2 = .21). Mean values are
presented in Figure 1.
M. Michalopoulou et al.
Figure 1. Total physical activity score (PASE) for all participants according to gender and age
1 02,9
According to the results of two ñway MANOVA no significant interaction was reported
for the factors ìgenderî and ìageî for all the dependent variables included in the analysis. Main
effects were recorded for the factor gender for recreational PA of moderate intensity
(F1,587=11.988, p<.001, Á2=.03) and for participation in muscle strength and endurance exercises
(F1,587=5.800, p<.05, Á2=.02) with men being significantly more active when compared to
women in this study. Additionally women were more active than men in regards to light
housework (F1,587=17.470, p<.001, Á2=.03), to lawn work or yard care (F1,587 = 5.243, p<.05,
Á2=.01) and to outdoor gardening (F1,587 = 6.685, p<.01, Á2=.01) /Figures 2 and 3/.
Figure 2. differences in physical activity related to housework and carrying for others between
men and women in both age groups
1 50
Gr oup A Group B Total
1 30
1 10
W omen
Figure 3. PASE scores for men and women in both age groups in walking, recreational physical
activities and exercise
Group A
Group b
Recreational Activities
Physical activity of Greek older adults
For the factor ìageî significant main effects were reported for walking (F1,587 = 12.289,
p<.001, Á2=.07), for light recreational PA (F1,587 = 9.281, p<.01, Á2=.04), for moderate intensity
recreational PA (F1,587 = 4.890, p<.05, Á2=.02), and for strenuous sport/recreational activities
(F1,587 = 8.543, p<.01, Á2=.04). Additionally as far as the variables of house work and carrying
for another person are concerned the effect of factor ìageî was significant for the following
variables: light housework (F1,587 = 8.612, p<.01, Á2=.02), heavy housework (F1,587 = 16.003,
p<.001, Á2=.03), home repairs (F1,587 = 14.580, p<.001, Á2=.03), lawn work or yard care (F1,587 =
29.014, p<.001, Á2=.05), outdoor gardening (F1,587 = 12.687, p<.001, Á2=.02), caring for another
person (F1,587 = 7.518, p<.01, Á2=.02). All statistically significant differences were in favor of
Group A when compared to Group B (Table 2).
Table 2
Mean values of PASE in different physical activity scores according to age group
Group A
Group ¬
à ± SD
à ± SD
à ± SD
House work and carrying for
108.66 ± 40.86
82.5 ± 47.16
97.66 ± 45.46
19.48 ± 18.33
14.43 ± 15.79
17.35 ± 17.47
Light recreational activities
4.34 ± 9.40
2.26 ± 6.07
3.46 ± 8.22
Moderate recreational
2.62 ± 9.61
1.36 ± 5.66
2.09 ± 8.20
Strenuous recreational
1.09 ± 4.21
0.25 ± 2.02
0.73 ± 3.48
Muscle strength/ endurance
0.22 ± 1.49
0.33 ± 1.80
0.27 ± 1.63
*p<.05, **p<.01
According to the results of this study women and men similar PA scores a finding that is
not in accordance with those of numerous previous studies where in most cases older men are
more active when compared to older women
(Craig et al.,
1997; Jones et al.,
Michalopoulou et al., 2006; Yusuf et al., 1996). This difference may be due to differences in the
instrument ñ questionnaire used for assessing PA of older adults. The majority of the
questionnaires used in previous studies were designed in order to record typical differences in
the physical activities of younger adults and middle aged adults and might not be suitable for
recording the physical activities that older adults participate at (Shephard, 2002). Additionally
most of these instruments have not assessed or emphasized PA resulting from transportation,
household activities or other domestic activities such as care-giving and these activities may be
particularly important and more common in the lives of women and thus underestimate PA
levels in older women. The PASE questionnaire that was used in this study includes questions
that assess the above activities
(house work and caring for others) and have a significant
contribution to the total PA score especially for women. According to Washburn et al., (1993)
who constructed PASE, this instrument was designed to overcome the above problems inherent
in existing methods of assessing PA in older adults by including questions related to moderate
and strenuous PA performed as part of housework and carrying for others. In the study of Schuit
et al. (1997), women participated more in physical activities related to house work and caring for
M. Michalopoulou et al.
other and thus were more active when compared to men a finding that is being supported by the
results of our study.
In more detail, the differences in PA sub scores that were recorded in the present study in
favor of women when compared to male participants include light house work, outdoor
gardening and yard care. The above findings led us to the conclusion that the advantage of
women over men in PA was mainly the result of PA related to housework, an advantage that
persists in both age groups. In a study with frail older men that lived independently (Hachisuka,
Tsutsui, Furusawa, & Ogata, 1999), had lower levels of PA when compared to frail older women
of the same age.
Differences in favor of men were recorded in the present is study for activities performed
outside the home environment, that is recreational physical activities of moderate intensity and
for participation in muscle strength and endurance exercises. This finding has been reported in
the literature before since, where older men are more frequently found outside their home
participating during their free-time in physical activities of moderate intensity (Dallosso et al.,
1998). In recreational activities of low and high intensity the scores for men and women were not
different and the respective scores were relatively low when compared to the scores for walking,
another for of activity where no gender differences were reported in this study. This finding is in
accordance with those of previous studies that mention that the elderly perform engage in mostly
at physical activities alone and when they are at home (Horgas, et al., 1998). They devote a
significant percentage of their free time in watching TV and only a very small percentage of
them engage in physical activities (Crespo, Keteyian, Heath, & Sempos, 1996). Additionally,
walking represents the form of physical activity that older adults prefer irrespective of gender
and age (Craig, & Cameron, 2002) supporting the finding that walking was the form of physical
activity with the second highest PA sub scale scores recorded for the participants in this study,
following the sub scale of housework and taking care of others.
In relation to age and PA participation (total PA score), older adults in Group A (65-75
years) had the higher PA scores when compared to older adults in Group B (76-86 years). These
findings are supported by previous studies according to which PA is reduced when age increases
for older adults (Craig, et al., 1997; Kamimoto et al., 1999; USDHHS, 1999; Jones et al., 1998).
The conclusions presented by the above cross-sectional studies were based on comparisons
performed between younger and older adults and not between different age groups of older
Additionally, differences in PA sub scales, in relation to its content and the intensity were
reported between the two age groups of this study for walking and light and moderate intensity
recreational physical activities and for participation in exercises for muscular strength and
endurance. Previous studies using different age groups of elderly participants (Avlund et al.
2004), reported that older adults aged 70-79 years do not significantly decrease walking as a
form of PA when compared to younger groups of older adults. This lack of accordance between
the findings of our study and those of previous ones, may reflect the different age groups being
studied. Further more, participants in Group B were less active when housework and carrying
for another person was concerned reflecting their limitation in performing the basic and
instrumental activities of daily living required in daily life due to limitations in their functional
abilities and other health problems that they face (Jack, & Luigi. 2003).
In conclusion older women and men had similar PA scores (total PA) and age had a
significant effect on their total PA score. The majority of the PA variables used in assessing
different in content and intensity physical activities were lower for the older participants (age 76-
86) when compared to participants in group A (65-75 years). The highest PA scores in this study
were recorded for the sub scales assessing housework and carrying for another person and the
lowest for the sub scales assessing strenuous recreational PA and participation in exercises for
the improvement of strength and endurance. Walking on the other hand was the only activity
Physical activity of Greek older adults
were relatively high scores were recorded for both men and women and for participants in both
age groups. The findings that support the notion that PA is related to the maintenance of good
physical condition and health (Shephard, 2002) does not seem to affect the lifestyle of Greek
older adults especially those above the age of 76 since the scores obtained were relatively low. In
general they prefer recreational activities of low intensity and men participate more than women
in recreational activities of moderate intensity and in muscular strength and endurance exercises.
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Submitted April 3, 2011
Accepted May 16, 2011
Research article
Volume 3, No. 2, 2011, 31-42
Sara Szakal*
Master degree student
Faculty of Sport and Physical Education
University of Novi Sad, Serbia
Women generally live longer than men because of both biological and behavioural advantages;
still womenís longer lives are not necessarily healthy lives. Considering that women from rural
areas are often recognized as particularly vulnerable social groups concerning quality of life and
physical activity, the study was conducted aiming to determine physical functioning and general
health of women from urban and rural areas, as well as to examine differences between them in
these health domains. Sample comprises of females aged 30 to 60 yrs, totally 146 participants
(73 from urban areas, 73 from rural areas). For the purposes of this study two scales, Physical
functioning and General health perceptions, from the SF-36 Health Survey. The results obtained
show that significant differences between two groups of participant exist in both domains, with
more positive self-perceptions of physical functioning in urban females and more positive global
health perceptions in rural females. These results confirm that personal satisfaction and
perception of oneís global health are affected not merely by the physical functioning, but by
other health components as well.
Keywords: women, health, physical functioning, rural areas, urban areas
According to a traditional definition, health means the absence of diseases. The
Constitution of the World Health Organization defines health as "A state of complete physical,
mental, and social well-being not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". The examination
of health and the effects of health care must also include the evaluation of well-being, which can
be estimated by measuring the improvements of the quality of life. WHO defines the Quality of
Life as an individual's perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value
systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns. ÑIt
* Corresponding author. Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Lov„enska 16, 21000
Novi Sad, Serbia, e-mail: mipele@freemail.hu
© 2010 Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
S. Szakal
is a broad ranging concept affected in a complex way by the person's physical health,
psychological state, personal beliefs, social relationships and their relationship to salient features
of their environmentì (WHOQOL, 1997) .
Women generally live longer than men because of both biological and behavioural
advantages, still womenís longer life is not necessarily a healthy one (WHO, 2009). They lack
basic health care, especially in the teenage and elderly period of life, in spite of the fact that they
live on average six to eight years longer than men, warns WHO.
The problem of womenís quality of life and health acquires an additional dimension
when observed from the aspect of how urban the area they live in is. The women in the rural
areas represent a specific subpopulation and not often do they stay out of sight of the scientist
working in the field of physical education and sport. The efforts which, on the global level, are
put in achieving the equality of women in society have brought about an ancreased interest in
womenís health and quality of life.Women from the rural areas constitute a specially vulnerable
and marginalized social group .
The survey conducted on the sample of women from the rural areas and the women who
live in the remote parts of Australia showed that there are some differences in the health state,
health habits and health services (Byles, Mishra & Brookes, 2005). This study was conducted
with the purpose of examining the changes in health of the older Australian female population by
comparing the abundant key indicators of health and health care in three time points. The factors
which were the subject of comparison were: health state (quality of life in comparison to health,
symptoms, sight, hearing, help with everyday activities, falling down); healthy way of life
(smoking, physical activity); and using health services. Since it can be expected that the women
from the rural and remote parts of Australia are different from the ones who live in the urban
areas, there was a comparison of these variables for urban and rural populations, or the
population living in the remote parts of Australia.
In Australian longitudinal study of womenís health- better known as Australian
Womenís Health (ALSWH) - the participants were aged between 70 and 75 at the time of the
first examination in 1996. After that they were asked to fill in the questionnaire twice and the
third survey was conducted in 2005. In the survey the women had to answer a large number of
closed-type questions about their health and the way of life. 12.432 women aged between 70 and
75 took part in the first survey (in 1996), 8647 women took part in the survey 3 (69% of the
sample), while 8397 women took part in all surveys. All in all, there were few differences in the
health state between the women who live in urban areas, big rural, small rural and other rural and
remote areas and regions in every of the given surveys. Even though the changes in womenís
healt status were relatively small, they started occurring more often in the second survey. Even
though the need for the formal health protection was not singnificanlty higher, it has significantly
increased during the period of six years of observation. The main difference between women
from different surroundings lay in the fact that the ones from the urban surroundings used,
generally, a higher level of health protection. The data from ALSWH also indicated that the
women who moved to a more urban area suffered from more symptoms of a bad health state,
weaker mental health, a greater desire to have an approach to the system of health care, but at the
same time they used health services less than those who never moved. These data indicate the
fact that the women who moved from rural to urban areas are more susceptible to diseases and
they potentially represent a group of endangered elderly women who require a special treatment
by politics and planning, as well as the analysis of the problem in comparison to the spatial
distribution of inequality.
Cleary and Howell (2006) conducted a research with the purpose of examining the
experience that people from the rural area of the state of Idaho, aged 65 and over, had about a
high quality of life. SF-36 questionnaire was filled in by 95 people in total. The obtained results
were compared to the normative values of general American adult population and the specific
Physical functioning and general health of women
normative values for the people aged 65 and over. Women aged 75 and over had a lower level of
the physical health component. The results showed that the participants in the survey aged 75
and over had a higher quality of life in comparison to the expected values. That also shows that
living in rural areas is not an indicator of a lower quality of life for elderly people (Cleary &
Howell, 2006).
Taking into account that the women from the rural areas were often recognized as a
specially vulnerable group when it comes to the quality of life and taking part in physical activity
and sport, the goal of this study was to establish the physical functioning and general health of
women from urban and rural areas, as well as to examine the differences between them in the
two observed aspects of health.
The research was conducted within the frameworks of a project at the Faculty of Sport
and Physical Education in Novi Sad called ìImprove your health by exercisingî, aimed at
women and directed at following the influence of physical activity on their health. The
participants from cities were surveyed at the beginning of the project, while the ones from the
rural area were surveyed separately in the field.
The sample of participants consisted of women aged between 30 and 60, in total 146
participants. The sample of participants was divided in two subsamples: 1) participants from
urban area (in total 73 participants) and 2) participants from rural area (in total 73 participants).
The sample of the women from the rural area was convenient; it consisted of the women who
voluntarily applied for the project ìImprove your health by exercisingî at the Faculty of Sport
and Physical Education in Novi Sad. The participants from the rural area were recruited in the
village Svilojevo.
Measuring instruments
In this research the general health questionnaire SF-36 (Short Form Health Survey) was
used. The past experience with this questionnaire has been recorded in 4000 publications. It
covers eight aspects of health (eight subscales) or 36 items (questions). What is obtained is an
eight-dimensional profile of functional data about health conditions and the level of well-being,
as well as the summary of measures of physical and mental health based on psychometric data
and the index of general health conditions. There are eight health concepts chosen out of forty
covered by the Medical Outcomes Study or MOS (Stewart & Ware, 1992). The chosen concepts
are the ones which are widely used for health examinations and at the same time those which
have the strongest influence on diseases and their treatment (Ware, Snow, Kosinski, & Gandek,
1993; Ware, 1995). It is assumed that eight subscales form two separate sets on a higher level
because of the variance of physical and mental health which is mutual for them. Physical
components are: physical functioning, physical role, physical pain and general health. Mental
components are: mental health, emotional role, social functioning and vitality. This research
included two aspects of the physical component of health, or two subscales with the appropriate
items: Physical functioning and General health.
Three subscales (Physical Functioning, Physical Role and Physical Pain) mostly correlate
with the physical component and add to the result of Physical Component Summary or PCS
(Ware, Kosinski, & Keller, 1994). The mental component mostly correlates with the scales
mental health, emotional role and social function, which also add to the Mental Component
Summary or MCS. There are three subscales (Vitality, General Health and Social Functioning)
S. Szakal
which show noticeable correlations with both components. Scoring in the subscales is done in
accordance with the original key, so for the items with three possible items an participant can get
0,25 or 50 points, depending on the chosen answer, while for the items with five possible
answers an participant can score 0, 25, 50, 75 or 100 points. The direction of scoring depends on
the orientation of the item; higher score always indicates a more positive aspect of health. The
total result on a subscale represents an average score on items which form that scale. The internal
consistency of Physical Functioning and General Health subscales is relatively high (0.824 and
0.834 respectivelly).
Methods of data processing
The data were processed by using the descriptive statistics and the differences in the
observed aspects of health between the subsamples of the women from urban and rural areas
were examined by applying t-tests for two independent samples. The statistical package SPSS
was used for data processing. In the chapter Results first of all the differences between two
groups of participant on Physical functioning subscale are presented, followed by the results of
analyzing the differences in individual items of this subscale. After showing the differences
between two groups of females on the subscale General health, the differences in individual
items of this subscale are presented.
Physical functioning
Table 1 contains basic descriptive indicators of the participants from urban and rural ares
on the subscale Physical functioning. Figure 1 shows mean values of the participants from the
observed groups on the subscale Physical functioning. As the table 4 shows, the participants
from urban areas expressed numerically higher mean values on the subscale Physical functioning
in comparison to the participants from rural areas (93.56 to 89.79). At the same time, the range
of the results is higher in the rural subsample, which, together with higher values of the
coefficient of variation, indicates a greater homogeneity of the subsample.
Table 1
Physical functioning: basic descriptive indicators
Rural areas
N ñ number of participants; M ñ arithmetic mean; SD ñ standard deviation; MIN ñ minimal result; MAX ñ
maksimum result; KV% - coefficient of variation
Physical functioning and general health of women
Figure 1. Participantsí average scores on the subscale Physical Functioning
1 - Participants from rural area
2 - Participants from urban area
The significance of the differences between two arithmetic means was tested by the t-test
for small independent tests. The results are shown in the table 2. From the table 2 it can be
concluded that the differences between the participants from urban and rural areas are
significantly different according to their mean values on the subscale Physical functioning (t=-
2,008; p= 0.046). Women from a urban area usually give significantly higher scores for their
physical functioning in comparison to the women from the rural area.
Table 2
Testing the significance of differences between the subsamples on the subscale Physical
Subsample N M t-test p
Physical functioning Rural area
Urban area
N ñ number of participants; M ñ arithmetic mean; p ñ level of significance
The analysis of the answers to individual questions (items) which belong to the subscale
Physical functioning gives a full insight in the specific nature of the subsamples. Mean values for
the individual items are shown in the table 3.
S. Szakal
Table 3
Testing the significance of differences between the subsamples on individual items of the
subscale Physical functioning
Rural areas
Urban areas
of the
Vigorous activities, such as
running, lifting heavy objects,
participating in strenuous
Moderate activities, such as
moving a table, pushing a
vacuum cleaner, moderate
Lifting or carrying groceries
Climbing several flights of
Climbing onf flight of stairs
Bending, kneeling, stooping
Walking for several
Walking several blocks
Walking one block
Bathing or dressing yourself
N ñ number of participants; M ñ arithmetic mean; p ñ level of significance
From the table 3 it can be concluded that the statistically significant differences on the
level of individual items exist only for the item number 8 (ìWalking for several kilometersî) in
favour of the participants from a urban areas, who are very close to the maximum results with
their average score 97.95. The participants from both subsamples are completely independent in
taking care of theur personal hygiene and putting on clothes (item 11). The lowest average scores
are obtained on the item number 2 which refers to physically demanding activities, where the
participants from the rural areas achieved a score 71.23 and the participants from a urban
areas73.39. Figure 2 shows regularity in the item which refers to walking as the most frequent
exercise: the longer it is, the lower their scores are (they see their physical functioning in more
negative light). Even though there are no statistically significant differences, except for walking
for several kilometers, it can be concluded that the participants from a urban areas achieved
numerically higher values in
9 out of
10 items which belong to the subscale Physical
functioning, which affected a significantly higher average score on this subscale in comparison
to the participants from the rural areas.
Physical functioning and general health of women
Figure 2. Participantsí average scores for the items refer to walking: Walking for several
kilometres (A), walking several blocks (B) and walking one block (C)
1 - Participants from rural area
2 - Participants from urban area
General health
Basic statistic indicators of the subsamples of women from urban and rural areas on the
subscale General health are shown in the table 4. Average scores for both subsamples are also
shown in the Figure 3. The participants from the rural areas achieved higher numeric values of
the total scores on the subscale General health (78.92 in comparison to 72.53 for the participants
from a urban areas). At the same time, the subsample of women from the rural area contained
lower minimal result, even though values of the coefficient of variation indicate equal
homogeneity of the subsample.
Table 4
General health: basic descriptive indicators
Sample N M
Rural areas
Urban areas
N ñ Number of participants; M ñ arithmetic mean; SD ñ standard deviation; MIN ñ minimal result; MAX ñ
maximum result; CV% - coefficient of variation
S. Szakal
Figure 3. Participantsí average scores on the subscale General Health
1 - Participants from rural area
2 - Participants from urban area
5 shows the results of testing the significance of differences between the
subsamples on the subscale General health. It can be concluded that there are statistically
significant differences in the self-estimation of health in favour of the participants from the rural
area (78,92 to 72,53).
Table 5
Testing the significance of differences between the subsamples on the subscale General health
SUBSCALE Subsample N M t-test p
General health Rural area
Urban area
N ñ number of participants; M ñ arithmetic mean; p ñ level of significance
Descriptive indicators and t-test on the level of individual items (indicators) of General
health are shown in the table
6. Out of
5 itemswhich belong to this subscale, there are
statistically significant differences for only 2 items (ìI am as healthy as anybody I knowí and
ìMy health is excellentî). In both cases the participants from the rural areas showed higher
agreement with these claims in comparison to the participants from a urban areas. The highest
scores were achieved for the items number 12 and 14 which refer to suffering from illnesses or
expectations with reference to deteriorations of their health, where the participants from the rural
area denied the claim that they get sick easier than other people (AM= 84.93), while the
participants from a urban areas deny the claim that they expect their health to be deteriorated
(with the same average score). The lowest average score was expressed for the item number 13
(ìI am as healthy as anybody I knowî) in the subsample of the women from the urban area
(AM= 59.93) which shows that the majority of women were hesitant about agreeing with this
Physical functioning and general health of women
Table 6
Testing the significance of differences between the subsamples on individual items of the
subscale General health
Rural areas
Urban areas
of item
Health now
I seem to get sick a little
easier than other people
I am as healthy as anybody I
I expect my health to get
My health is excellent
M ñ arithmetic mean; SD ñ standard deviation; p ñ level of significance
The examination of the differences in self-evaluation of physical health and general
health of the participants from the rural and urban surroundings indicated the existence of
statistically significant differences in both domains. When taking physical functioning into
account, women from the urban surroundings, who scored on average 93.56 in comparison to
89.79 (the score of the participants from the rural surroundings), have a significantly better
perception of their own physical capacities
On the other hand, the participants from the rural subsample were significantly better at
the evaluation of their general health (78.92 to 72.53 ).
This result, which may seem somewhat illogical at first sight, actually can be interpreted
in many ways. It is asuumed that the subsamples of women included in this research are
significantly different in the way of life, systems of value, roles they play, expectations of the
surroundings they live in and other. It is possible that women who live in cities have a better
coordination of their budget of time in comparison to the ones living in the rural areas, which is
supported by the fact that the participants from the urban subsample chose organized recreational
On the other hand, the fact that the women from the rural areas included in this research
achieved significantly higher average scores on our subscale General health can be a proof in
favour of a multidimensional health concept, where physical functioning is just one of
components of good health and subjective feeling of well-being.
As pointed out in the chapter about the measuring instruments, the subscale General
health shows significant correlations with the mental and physical component, which means that
some other factors (apart from physical functioning) could improve the results of the rural
S. Szakal
subsample on this scale. To mention just a few, there is a different speed of life, less exposure to
stress, noise, pollution; greater and closer contact with the nature and its rhythms, stronger social
connection inside a family and neighbourhood and similar. All of them are the factors which can
improve the psycho-physical balance of the women from the rural areas. That indicates that
subjectively and/or objectively weaker physical functioning does not necessarily have to have a
negative influence on self-evaluation of general health.
It must be mentioned that the choice of sports and recreational activities of women in the
rural areas is extremely obscure. In a recent study about the position of female sport in
Vojvodina, it has been shown that all local government, except for éitiöte as the most
underdeveloped rural area, give certain amounts of money for financing sports clubs (-orði„,
2011). According to that research, percent of female sports clubs is 9%. Male clubs 47% and
both male and female 44%, which indicates an element of discrimination of women in the field
of taking part in sports clubs. éitiöte as a small rural area has the greatest percent of male sports
clubs (85%), which suggests that the problem is even more expressed in smaller areas. The
presence of the clubs which are available to women (female and mixed clubs) is significantly
smaller than those available to men (male and mixed clubs). Unequal opportunities for taking
part in any sport are the most obvious in éitiöte where one club covers 2618 women or 414 men.
The authors make a conclusion that women, especially in rural areas, have no adequate
possibilities for taking part in sports (-orði„, 2011).
An interesting research which dealt with the problem of rural areas not being present
enough was made by surveying a stratified sample consisting of 1621 village households
(Cveji„, Babovi„, Petrovi„, Bogdanov and Vukovi„, 2010). The existence of differences between
sexes in many aspects of life and work is supported by the finding that in their free time much
more women travelled and did some handicraft, while men chose recreation, hunting and fishing
(Cveji„ et a al., 2010). At the same time the research showed that, inspite of certain losses, there
is a significant social capital of people living in the rural areas. 80% participants confirmed that
they have a close social support in giving advice or emotional help. Observed from the point of
view of sexes, it is noticeable that men somewhat more rely on the closest social surroundings
when it comes to working habits and borrowing money, while women are ahead of them when it
comes to emotional support and the approach to institutions. These results support a possible
explanation of the results obtained in our research.
Women in the rural areas are traditionally tied to house chores socially acceptable ways
of spending free time
(spending time in the neighbourhood, in a ìfemaleî organization,
handicraft, etc). So, on one hand there is no adequate offer of recreational activities, support
from a family or wider community, while on the other it is not in accordance with the traditional
role of a woman to direct her free time towards sports-recreational activities. Women from
Svilojevo, who were members of the rural subsample, have no recreational activities they could
choose, or any professional help they could get in their individual exercising. All that could have
an influence on their negative perception of physical functioning in comparison to the
participants from a urban areas.
It is interesting that average scores of the participants from both subsamples are higher on
the subscale Physical functioning than on the subscale General health, which is also a
confirmation that personal satisfaction and perception of general health influence other aspects
of health as well.
Physical functioning and general health of women
Blagojevi„, M. (2006). Seoske ûenske organizacije u Vojvodini.. Novi Sad: Pokrajinski zavod za
ravnopravnost polova.
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Cleary, K. K., & Howell, M. D. (2006). Using the SF-36 to Determine Perceived Health-Related
Quality of Life in Rural Idaho Seniors. Journal of Allied Health, 35 (3), 156-161.
Cveji„, S., Babovi„, M., Petrovi„, M., Bogdanov, N. i Vukovi„, O. (2010). Socijalna iskljuËenost
u ruralnim oblastima Srbije. Beograd: UNDP Srbija, Centar za inkluzivni razvoj.
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Sad: Pokrajinski sekretarijat za sport i omladinu.
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Outcomes Study Approach. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Ware, J. E, Kosinski, M., & Keller, S. K. (1994). SF-36Æ Physical and Mental Health Summary
Scales: A User's Manual. Boston, MA: The Health Institute.
Ware, J. E., Snow, K. K., Kosinski, M., & Gandek, B. (1993). SF-36Æ Health Survey Manual
and Interpretation Guide. Boston, MA: New England Medical Center, The Health
Ware, J. E, Jr., Kosinski, M., Bayliss, M. S., McHorney, C. A, Rogers, W. H, & Raczek, A.
(1995). Comparison of methods for the scoring and statistical analysis of SF 36 Health
Profile and Summary Measures: Summary of results from the Medical Outcomes Study.
Medical Care, 33, AS264-AS279.
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Tomorrowís Agenda. Geneve: Author.
Submitted September 29, 2011
Accepted November 30, 2011
Research article
Volume 3, No. 2, 2011, 43-48
Jelena Popadi„ Ga„eöa*, Otto Barak, Dea Karaba Jakovljevic, Aleksandar Klaönja,
Vladimir Gali„, Miodrag Drapöin, Damir LukaË and Nikola Gruji„
Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine
University of Novi Sad, Serbia
The aim of this study was to evaluate body fat content (BF) of elite athletes obtained by two
different field methods for body composition measurements and to compare it with body mass
index (BMI) values. The research was conducted on 40 male athletes (20 runners and 20
handball players) and 30 non athletes. BF was calculated from the skinfold values (BFsft) and
estimated using a hand-held impedance analyzer (BFbia%). Body mass index, waist to hip ratio
(WHR) and waist to stature ratio (WSR) were calculated from adequate anthropometric values.
Comparing the BF content between non athletes and two different sport groups, significant
difference was found in all parameters between runners and non athletes (p < 0.05). Significant
difference was found between BF values of runners and handball players (p < 0.05). Runners
have had significantly lower BF, estimated by both methods. They also have had significantly
lower WHR and WSR (p < 0.05). In the group of athletes and non athletes with BMI higher than
25 kg/m2, or lower than 20 kg/m2, comparing with others, no significant difference was found in
BFsft and WHR. BMI is not a good predictor of BF, because it does not provide specific
information about body fatness, but rather body heaviness. Bioimpedance and anthropometry
methods could be used to monitor non obese subjects in clinical routine and population based
studies. For BF estimation in athletes, we recommend anthropometry, rather than bioimpedance
because of inter individual and inter sports variations in arms length and regional masculinity.
Keywords: body fat, BMI, body composition, anthropometry, athletes
Athletic performance is partially influenced by body composition characteristics of an
athlete. Measurements of total or whole body fat content range from indirect estimates based on
compartmental modeling approaches, to more direct measures of adipose tissue volume, such as
in-vivo magnetic resonance imaging ñ MRI (Goodpaster, 2002).
* Corresponding author. Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Novi Sad, Hajduk Veljko St.
3, 21000 Novi Sad, Serbia, e-mail: jpopadic@uns.ac.rs
© 2010 Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
J. Popadi„ Ga„eöa et al.
Bioelectrical impedance (BIA) and skinfold thickness (SFT) techniques, so-called field
methods, are simple, readily available and noninvasive ones, along with the advantage of being
radiation free. BIA and SFT method could be used to monitor non obese subjects in clinical
routine and population based studies. The prediction equations are derived from lean subjects
(Erselcan et al. 2000), and the prediction was generally good at a population level (Deurenberg et
al. 2001).
Body mass index (BMI), like all anthropometric measurements, is only a surrogate
measure of body fatness. In specific groups such as athletes and women, military personnel,
police, firemen, etc., they are considerably leaner than indicated by their BMI. This relationship
holds for most sport personnel, even down to the very low BMI associated with elite runners
(Prentice, 2001).
The aim of this study was to evaluate body fat content of elite athletes obtained by two
different field methods for body composition measurements and to compare it with BMI values.
The research was conducted on 40 male athletes, with average age 20.8 years, who have
been active athletes for 7.8 years. They have been divided into subgroups, according to they
sport specialties: 20 runners (active for 6.0 ± 3 years) and 20 handball players (active for 9.5 ± 4
years). They were all healthy, and voluntarily participated in the study. Control group was
consisted of 30 non athletes, medical students, and they were not participated in any sport
activity in the past 6 months.
The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Medical School of the
University of Novi Sad and the investigation was performed according to the principles outlined
in the Declaration of Helsinki.
Anthropometric measures, used in this research, were: Body weight (W), body height
(H), 7 skinfolds (chest, midaxillary, triceps, subscapular, abdomen, anterior suprailiac and mid
thigh skinfold thicknesses) and 5 circumferences (arm relaxed, arm flexed and tensed, waist,
chest and hip). All anthropometric measurements were conducted under the recommendations
and rules given by Heywarth and Stolarczyk (1996). At each skinfold site, measurements were
conducted with Holtain-Koln caliper, to the nearest 0.1mm. Girths were measured with a flexible
steel tape and all circumferences were recorded to the nearest millimeter.
After that, values of body mass index (BMI), waist to hip ratio (WHR) and waist to
stature ratio
(WSR) were calculated. Body mass index
(BMI ñ kg/m2) was derived as
weight/stature2, waist to hip ratio ñ WHR ñ was calculated as waist circumference divided by hip
circumference, and waist to stature ratio ñ WSR ñ as waist circumference divided by height. For
normal values of BMI, the references from World Health Organization were used (WHO, 1997)
ñ BMI 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2 for lean individuals, border values from 25 to 29.9 kg/m2, and obesity
BMI higher than 30 kg/m2.
For body composition analysis, total body fat was calculated from the skinfold and
circumference values
(BFsft), according to the recommendations given by Heywarth and
Stolarczyk (1996). Other method for estimation of body fat was using a hand-held impedance
analyzer - Omron BF300. During the measurement the instrument recorded impedance from
hand to hand and consequently calculated body fat percentage from the impedance value and the
pre-entered personal particulars
(weight, height, age and sex). Two values were obtained:
percentage of total body fat (BFbia%) and total body fat mass (BFbia).
BMI and body fats in elite athletes
All data were presented as mean values ± standard deviation (SD). In statistical analysis,
variance analysis ñ one way ANOVA was used, as well as Pearsonís correlation coefficient.
Descriptive characteristics for athletes and non athletes are shown in Table 1.
Table 1
Characteristics of participants (non-athletes n = 30; runners n = 20; handball players n = 20)
Handball players
Height (cm)
Weight (kg)
Age (years)
BFsft (%)
BMI (kg/m2)
BFbia (kg)
BFbia (%)
Waist C (cm)
Hip C (cm)
The average values for body fat content in athletes, calculated from skinfold thickness ñ
SFT (BFsft) were 10.2 ± 3.2% and 11.5 ± 3.9% using bioimpedance (BFbia). Average BMI in
athletes was 23.9 ± 5.1 kg/m2. No significant difference was found between BMI and body fat
values of athletes and non athletes. Non athletes were lean, with average BMI
23.8 ± 2.2 kg/m2
and average body fat content 12.7 ± 4.1% measured by BIA.
Comparing the body fat content (BMI, BFbia, WHR, WSR) between non athletes and
two different sport groups, significant difference was found in all parameters between runners
and non athletes (p< 0.05). On the other hand, between handball players and non athletes no
significant difference was found in parameters of BFbia and WHR (p> 0.05).
Significant difference was found between body fat values of runners and handball players
(p< 0.05). Runners have had significantly lower body fat, estimated by skinfold thickness and
bioimpedance measurements. They also have had significantly lower WHR and WSR (p< 0.05).
All participants were divided into two subgroups, those with BMI lower than 24,9 kg/m2
and those with BMI higher than 25 kg/m2. Comparing body fat content between these two
subgroups, there were no significant difference found in BFsft and WHR in runners and handball
players. In the group of non athletes WHR was not significantly different (p> 0.05). Body fat
content values measured by BIA were significantly different between these subgroups (p< 0.05).
Comparing the body fat content (BFsft and BFbia) in the group of athletes with BMI lower than
19.9 kg/m2 and those with BMI higher than 20.0 kg/m2, there were no significant differences
found (p> 0.05). There was no correlation between BMI and BF% in athletes, because BMI is a
surrogate of body mass. Since athletes are heavier (especially handball players) due to their
muscle mass, it directly leads to higher values of BMI. Mismatch between BMI and BF in
athletes is shown in Figure 1.
J. Popadi„ Ga„eöa et al.
Figure 1. Mismatch between body mass index (BMI) and body fat in athletes
BFsft (%)
BMI (kg/m2)
Values of BF% calculated from SFT correlate with values measured from BIA (r = 0.87)
in all athletes.
Since athletic performance is partially influenced by the ratio of oneís fat mass (FM) to
fat-free mass (FFM), most athletes are concerned with their body composition.
The proportions of water, protein and mineral in the fat-free body, and thus the overall
density of the fat-free body (FFBd) vary with age, gender, ethnicity, level of body fatness and
physical activity level (Bottaro et al. 2002).
A variety of methods has been developed to determine body composition. Each of these
methods has individual limitations in its assumption, calibration, accuracy and precision. In the
present study, the most widely used two methods of body composition analysis, which are
readily available in clinical routine, were evaluated in athletes and non athletes.
One alternative field technique that is simple, inexpensive and noninvasive is the
measurement of subcutaneous fat thickness, or skinfolds, at selected sites. Since Matiega (1921)
developed the first equations to estimate body fat based on skinfold thickness, several
subsequent equations have been developed to estimate fat free mass or fat mass based on a two-
compartment model from body density (Heyward & Stolarczyk 1996). The error in body fat
estimates from skinfold thickness ranges from +- 3 to +- 11%, and is influenced by sex, race and
age. The reliability of body fat estimates from either skin folds or circumferences is largely
dependent upon the skill of the examiner (Goodpaster, 2002). Bioimpedance (BIA) is based on
the principle that the electrical conductivity of the fat-free mass is greater than that of fat. The
method assumes a cylindrical model of the body and a normal hydration of the fat-free mass.
In our study, average body fat percentages for runners were 8.4 ± 3.0 %, calculated from
SFT and 9.2 ± 2.9 % measured from BIA. Average body fat percentages for handball players
were 12.1 ± 4.4 %, calculated from SFT and 13.8 ± 3.6 % measured from BIA. According to
Heyward and Stolarczyk (1996), average body fat percentages of runners are
8-16% and
handball players are 10-12%. Average body fat percent in non athletes was 12.7 ± 4.1 %
measured by BIA.
BMI and body fats in elite athletes
It was shown in earlier studies (Baumgarthner et al. 1989; Fuller & Elia, 1989; Loy et al.
1998) that segmental impedance measurements (measuring only segments of the body as the legs
or arms) also allow fairly accurate assessments of body composition. These segmental
impedance instruments are easy to use and have the advantage that they are relatively
inexpensive (Deurenberg et al. 2001).
Comparing the results of body fat percentage in our participants, it was shown that BMI
is not a good predictor of BF%. It does not provide specific information about body fat, but
rather body size. In the group of athletes and non athletes with BMI higher than 25 kg/m2, or
lower than 20 kg/m2, comparing with others, no significant difference was found in BFsft and
On the other hand, BF measured by BIA showed significant difference between these
Estimation of body fat from BIA showed different distribution of body fat content than
those calculated from SFT and WHR parameter in the group of athletes and lean non athletes.
This observation might be explained by characteristics of BIA analyzer. In subjects with
relatively larger arm muscles, the total amount of fat-free mass will be overestimated with BIA
technique and hence BF% will be underestimated. Also, in subjects with relatively long arms, the
measured impedance will be high and hence fat-free mass low and thus calculated BF% high
(Snijder et al. 1999). There are reported differences in relative arm length among populations
and it is known that within population groups the variability in arm length is high (Eveleth &
Tanner, 1976).
WHR can be used as a good predictor of body fat content in lean subjects (Srdic et al.
2003). This parameter showed a good correlation with BF% in athletes (r = 0.65).
Comparing the results of body fat percent in athletes and non athletes, it was shown that there is
a good correlation between values derived from SFT and BIA in the present study (r = 0.82 for
runners, r = 0.87 for handball players, r = 0.88 for all athletes).
In conclusion, for estimation of body fat percent in athletes, we recommend skinfold
thickness method, rather than bioimpedance, because of inter individual and inter sports
variations in arms length and regional muscle mass. Body mass index is not a good predictor of
body fat percent. It does not provide specific information about body fatness, but rather body
Baumgarthner, R. N., Chumlea, W. C., & Roche, A. F. (1989). Estimation of body composition
from bioelectrical impedance of body segments. The American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition, 50, 221-226.
Bottaro, M. F., Heyward, V. H., Bezerra, R. F. A., & Wagner, D. R. (2002). Skinfold method vs
dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry to assess body composition in normal and obese
women. Journal of Exercise Physiology, 5 (2), 11-18.
Deurenberg, P., Andreoli, A., Borg, P. et al.
(2001). The validity of predicted body fat
percentage from body mass index and from impedance in samples of five European
populations. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 55, 973-979.
Erselcan, T., Candad, F., Saruhan, S., & Ayca, T. (2000). Comparison fo body composition
analysis methods in clinical routine. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 44, 243-248.
J. Popadi„ Ga„eöa et al.
Eveleth, P. B., & Tanner, J. M. (1976). World-Wide Variation in Human Growth. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Fuller, N. J., & Elia, M. (1989). Potential use of bioelectrical impedance of the whole body and
of body segments for the assessment of body composition: comparison with densitometry
and anthropometry. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 43, 779-791.
Goodpaster, B. H. (2002). Measuring body fat distribution and content in humans. Current
Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, 5, 481-487.
Heyward, H. V., & Stolarczyk, M. L.
(1996). Applied Body Composition Assessment.
Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Loy, S. F., Likes, E. A., Andrews, P. M. et al.
(1998). Easy grip on body composition
measurements. ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal, 2, 16-19.
Matiega, J.
(1921). The testing of physical efficiency. American Journal of Physical
Anthropology, 4, 223-230.
Prentice, A. M., & Jebb, S. A. (2001). Beyond body mass index. The International Association
for the Study of Obesity, Obesity reviews, 2, 141-147.
Snijder, M. B., Kuyf, B. E. M., & Deurenberg, P. (1999). Effect of body build on the validity of
predicted body fat from body mass index and bioelectrical impedance. Annals of
Nutrition and Metabolism, 43, 277-285.
Srdic, B., Stokic, E., & Polzovic, A. (2003). Parameters defining size and distribution of body fat
tissue: relationship analysis. Medicinski Pregled, 5(6), 232-236.
WHO. (1997). Obesity-Preventing and Managing the Global Epidemic. Geneve: Report of
WHO consultations on obesity.
Submitted October 9, 2011
Accepted December 15, 2011
Research article
Volume 3, No. 2, 2011, 49-56
Oæga KyseloviËov·* and Milan äp·nik
Faculty of Physical Education and Sports
Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia
In dance, biomechanical methodologies are used to improve aspects of dance
technique. Therefore the aim of our study was to gain knowledge of the kinematic structure
of the feather step in slow fox routine. Material and methods: Four top level dance couples
were involved in the study. To examine the routine biomechanically we have filmed the
particular dance figures by high speed camera with frequency of 50 frames per second.
Subsequently, we processed and evaluated digitalized images by 2D analysis. The path of
gravity and angular changes in knee joint in the particular dance figures phases were
evaluated and compared between partners and pairs together. Results: Dancing couples in the
same conditions reached different readings in angle of the knee joint as well as trajectory of
the centre of gravity during motion.
Keywords: modern ball room dance,
2 dimensional biomechanical analyse, kinematic
parameters, trajectory of centre of gravity, angle at knee joint
Modern ballroom dancing is a widely performed physical activity which is starting to
be considered an actual sport discipline. The aspects of ballroom dance are used for mediating
some basic aesthetical values. Dance, as other sports supports and forms physical abilities,
discipline, additionally creates aesthetical sense, collective feelings and improves relationship
to music. It is art and sport in one and it is also a physical activity, which is done by people of
different sexes (Holuö, 1983).We do agree with some statements of Schnabel (1988), Choutka
& Dovalil (1991), according to whom the structures of movement are the most difficult, and
highly automatic. Aerobic type of work alternates with significant anaerobic one.
* Corresponding author. Faculty of Physical Education and Sports, Comenius University, Department of
Gymnastics, L. Svobodu 9, 814 69, Bratislava, Slovakia, e-mail: kyselovicova@fsport.uniba.sk
© 2010 Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
O. KyseloviËov· and M. äp·nik
Requirements for coordination ability and creativity of the movement are high, with various
dance figures. A figure according to Kasa (2001) can be characterized as a movement that
creates a particular area and spatial patterns. The dance figures in modern ballroom dance are
performed in a closed dance ñ position, which s the limiting factor of performing the
movement (äp·nik, 2009). The way of centre of movement, its horizontal and vertical
differences are very important and therefore every dancer must know where exactly his centre
of movement is at the particular moment.
It is well known that improving the efficiency at sport is determined by looking for
some factors and more detailed analyses of them. One of these factors is the kinematic
structure of a particular moving activity, practising shape or dancing figure. Its level with
other factors influence and imitate increasing and improving sport efficiency (KyseloviËov·,
2008). The system of improving the technique by qualitative bioemechanical analyse includes
the following steps
(McGinnis, 1999): creating theoretical model of the most effective
technique, observing the particular model, evaluating efficiency by comparing the most
effective technique, learning from feedback of the current performance and the most effective
Evaluating sport performance at the dance sport is not absolute. It is not possible to
measure. Landsfeld (2001) claims that the task of judges is to differ and compare performed
sport efficiencies on the floor and OdstrËil (2004) divides evaluation into areas like tact and
basic rhythm, body line, movement, rhythmical expression, technique of feet, and the floor
wisdom. According to the international rules of evaluating (IDSF, 2002), OdstrËil (2004) also
claims that the main criteria is tact and basic rhythm. All the others are on the same level and
it is up to the referee how high importance he is going to put them.
The Slow fox dance is the most difficult ballroom dance according to technique. It has
four 4/4 tact, tempo is 29 - 30 tact per minute. The switching of slow and fast movements
creates a continual movement, which must be perfectly fluent, relaxed and controlled as well
(Loja, 2006). The basic characteristic feature is walking and three steps. All the figures are
made on the base of these two main features. Dance couples dance this from the very
beginners till the masters, who are performing and showing us their technique level. That is
why the proper technique is so important, and more, it is the key to solve the question of the
movement¥s task, which is in harmony with the possibilities of the individual, biomechanical
rules of movements and it is done by neurophysical control of movements and it leads to the
most effective and advisable performing movements (Koniar, 1986; Psalman & é·k, 2009;
Psalman, 2010). One of the parts of gaining the proper technique of figures is gaining the
detailed information about dominant phases, their micro phases and understanding the
technique of realization. Therefore the aim of our study was to gain knowledge of the
kinematic structure of the feather step in slow fox routine.
Technique description of the Feather step
The feather step belongs into the most basic figures with rhythm of ìslowî, ìquickî,
and ìquickî. It is formed of three fluent steps: 1st step is defined as the part of a movement,
when foot is about to move on the floor, then in the time and space, when it is moving next to
the standing foot, then forwards or backwards till the moment of when the cradle begins; 2nd
step or the cradle, when the feet don¥t move on the floor, 3rd step begins from the moment of
standing on the spot, through moving the centre from the standing foot to the stepping one,
Kinematic structure of the Slow Fox Feather step
which is beginning to be standing as well, till the moment when the tip or heel move on the
floor again. For better understanding and analyse Feather step is split into 12 phases as
follows (example of male partner performance): 1.step down right (first step); 2.step off left
leg (first step); 3.step off right leg (first step); 4.step left leg (first step); 5.step down left
(second step); 6.step off right leg (second step); 7.step off left leg (second step); 8.step right
leg (second step);
9.step down right (third step); 10.step off left leg (third step); 11.step off
right leg (third step); 12.step left leg (third step). Partners are dancing in face to face position.
Design of the study
Four top level dance couples (with the highest ÑSìperformance level) were involved in
the study (average age 24,3±2,2 years). To examine the routine and the particular feather step
biomechanically we have filmed dance figures by high speed camera with frequency 50
frames per second. Partners danced separately while recording the video. This method was
chosen in order to see all necessary points for precise and correct evaluation, otherwise it
might happened that partners would cover each other while dancing in pairs. In total, 19
anthropometrical points were evaluated, to which we emphasised vertical and horizontal
points. In order to analyse the particular movement, a kinogram was created. Subsequently,
we processed and evaluated digitalized images by 2D analysis. The measured data (the path
of gravity and angular changes at knee joint) were documented, evaluated and compared
between male and female partners as well as dance couples by programme ADOBE
All measured data were compared with dance partners of each other. The spatial
characteristics of movement are documented at the knee joint angles during the download
phases of the stepping leg and knee joint angle of the stance leg as well as during the cradle
(at the moment of out stepping). Next, we followed the path of centre of gravity (COG) of the
male and female partners. From the all measured values we have chosen only those after
every 25 cm of movement, because of so called ìwaveî movement, which is very typical and
involved in almost every dance figure pattern.
Trajectory of COG during the feather step while dancing Slow fox in the group of
male partners is almost identical (figure 1). Dance figure constitutes wavelike pattern (lift and
decrease phase), having a similar course for all partners. The difference is in the installation of
gravity and height, which is very individual. By comparing the partners the results show a
flatter trajectory of the centre of gravity in Partner 3. Thus, its uplift and reduction phases
compared to the other dancers of their minimum. On the other hand, the longest path of
movement (3.9 m), hence maximum lift phase of partner 4 is beyond the limitation of 2.5 m
distance (figure 1).
O. KyseloviËov· and M. äp·nik
Figure 1. Trajectory of Centre of Gravity in Feather step during Slow Fox (men)
The value of COG in female dancers documents different trajectory, lifts and
reduction phases as well. The most identical, as it is apparent on figure 2, is the distance of
approximately 1.25 m, which creates a very similar wave of movement. The longest feather
step of Partner 2 (with the length of 3,39 m) results in flatter course of movement.
Figure 2. Trajectory of Centre of Gravity in Feather step during Slow Fox (women)
To show the identical movements of each partner is important for their fluency without
vertical difference and lost of contact. Therefore we compare the same characteristics within
dance couples. While in Couple 1 the trajectory almost matched, couple 2 show always
different path of COG, which can cause asymmetrical, none well synchronized movement.
The length of the feather step was nearly the same in the case of this couple; the only
difference was just 6 cm.
The trajectory of COG in couple 3 is noticeable flatter at the first step and the
following lift with approximately the same character of the wave at the both partners, but with
Kinematic structure of the Slow Fox Feather step
a difference of 62 cm in length. On the basis of the different dance figure at the partner the tip
of lift is moved at the wave. The male reaches his maximum lift at the distance 2,25 to 2,5 m,
while the female could reach it at the 2 m distance.
Comparing male and female parameters in couple 4 we consider the path of COG is 75
cm longer in the male. Based on this difference the tip of wave is moved as well. The male
has a maximum lift at the vary distance 2,5 till 2,75 m, female
2,25 m, which means that a
woman has a flatter area of the centre of movement than a partner in the first step.
The results of angular changes are shown in figures 3 ñ 6. The angle of the knee joint
during the stepping phases (as described previously) was measured for male and female
partners. The angle in the stepping out phase of the right moving leg as well as for the step off
phase is the biggest for male partner 4 (figure 6). During the second step the angle at the knee
joint on the right leg was very similar in all the partners with a small divergence for male in
dance couple 4. Interestingly, the same person reached the biggest angle (164°) also during
the third step.
Figure 3. Angular changes during the Feather step in different phases
Figure 4. Angular changes during the Feather step in different phases
O. KyseloviËov· and M. äp·nik
Figure 5. Angular changes during the Feather step in different phases
Figure 6 Angular changes during the Feather step in different phases
For female partners the results are almost similar in comparison to men. The greatest
divergence showed partner number 2 and that is 16° more than the others (the first step). Very
similar values have been measured in the knee joint of the right moving leg. The angle during
step off the right standing leg was similar at partners with numbers 1, 3 and 4. The left
moving leg was bended at similar angle in partners 1, 4 and 2, 3. Further, figures 3, 4, 5, and 6
clarify the differences between male and female within the same couple.
All four dance couples differed slightly in measured spatial characteristics. Despite this
fact, no couple made a mistake while performing the steps, either in stepping technique or the
lined rhythm, and the evaluation showed correct technique. Dancing couples in the same
conditions reached different readings in angle of the knee joint as well as trajectory of the
centre of gravity during motion. This may be due to differences in somathotype, lack of
compression of the stance leg or vice versa too much reduction. Lack of the compression or
excessive reduction may interfere with the course in the nature dance movement, but also in
pairs, if not done at the same level. During this movement will be mainly different trajectory
to the centre of gravity. Will therefore correspond to each characteristic wave dance track
Kinematic structure of the Slow Fox Feather step
shown is figure and gravity. Reduction of quality or stroke will occur vertically excessive
fluctuations in the movement of a pair and will not be symmetrical. The readings will be less
variance between each pair, the movement is in a pair of compact vertical without
fluctuations. The spatial characteristics of movement are documented in individual
Despite of popularity of dances in general few studies are reported in literature.
Additionally, such biomechanical analyse of the movement was done at the dance sport in
Slovak Republic for the first time. Therefore, the results are hardly comparable because of
different dances, dance figures, tempo and rhythm, etc.
It is concluded that a better understanding of the movement is important for creating
teaching models that will improve and enhance technical potential.
Choutka, M., & Dovalil, J (1991). SportovnÌ trÈnink. Praha: Olympia.
Holuöa, J. (1983). General foundations of the standard technique and dances the waltz.
Prague: Czech Association of Amateur Ballroom Dancing, p. 9.
International dance sport federation (2002). Artistic criteria for IDSF adjudicators.
Amsterdam: International dance sport federation. (IDSF).
Kasa, J. (2001). Sport kinantropology. Bratislava: SVSTVä, FTVä UK.
Koniar, M. (1986). Biomechanics. Bratislava: Sport, Slovak sports publishing.
KyseloviËov·, O. (2008). Two-dimensional analysis of straddle jump in aerobics gymnastics.
Physical Education and Sport, 3-4, 15-18.
Landsfeld, Z. (2001). Guest dance performance. New York: PlamÌnek production.
Loja, P. (2006). Technique of standard dances - Foxtrot. Bratislava: Slovak Dance Sport
OdstrËil, P. (2004). Sports dance. Praha: Grada Publishing.
Psalman, V. (2010). Evaluation of sports equipment from the aspect of biomechanics.
Bratislava: ICM AGENCY.
Psalman, V. & é¡K F. (2009). Sports equipment and its evaluation in 3D biomechanical
analysis of movement. In Slovak School Sport: Proceedings of the national work conference
on school sport (228-237). Strbske Pleso: Slovak University Sport Association in
cooperation with the Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic.
Schnabel, P. (1988). In R. Moravec et al. (Eds.), Theory and didactics of sport. Bratislava:
Faculty of Physical Education and Sports, Comenius University in Bratislava in cooperation
with the Slovak Scientific Society for Physical Education and Sport.
äp·nik, M. (2009). Biomechanical analysis of selected dance figures in the standard dances
[Master Thesis]. Bratislava: FTVä UK.
Submitted November 2, 2011
Accepted December 15, 2011
Research article
Volume 3, No. 2, 2011, 57-66
Viönja -orði„* and Tatjana Tubi„
Faculty of Sport and Physical Education
University of Novi Sad, Serbia
Development of inclusive education model in Serbia, evident during last decade, is in accordance
with national strategic documents and corresponding international legislative. Special role in
inclusive education development belongs to intradepartmental commissions, established to
implement inclusive politics at local level. In paper, the normative framework for
intradepartmental commissions work is analyzed, as well as first experiences from Vojvodinaís
intradepartmental commissions. According to data submitted by commissionsí coordinators from
30 local communities, the greatest challenge in commissionsí work is implementation of
suggested individual plan of support. Problems with implementation could be referred to
additional educational support, including physical education as well. In inclusive physical
education perspective, the commissioní opinion is invaluable, because it contains a complete
insight into childís needs for additional support. Identification of barriers child and its family is
faced with, as well as supports they have in educational domain, presents the first step in
inclusive teaching planning. Data obtained show that within children referred to commissions
boys, primary school children and mentally disturbed individuals, represent a majority.
Keywords: inclusive education, physical education, intradepartmental commission
Inclusive education is based on the right of all learners to a quality education that meets
basic learning needs and enriches lives. The ultimate goal of inclusive education is to reduce all
forms of discrimination and enhance social cohesion. In inclusive school setting all children
learn together, wherever possible, regardless of any difficulties or differences they have
(Salamanca Statement, 1994). Instead of the students being the ones to adjust to the school
system, school should meet the needs of different students and contribute to their integration into
society. Reform of the Educational System in The Republic of Serbia, directed towards the
development of inclusive education, has been carried out in the last ten years in accordance with
national strategic documents and international documents like The Universal Declaration on
* Corresponding author. Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Lov„enska 16, 21000
Novi Sad, Serbia, e-mail: visnja@uns.ac.rs
© 2010 Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
V. -orði„ and T. Tubi„
Human Rights (1948), Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and United Nations
Millennium Declaration (2002). After adopting umbrella law in education, The Law on the
Fundamentals of the Education System (2009), in pilot schools the project on development and
implementation of effective inclusive education model was carried out. At the beginning of
2010, another important document was adopted, Additional Child Education, Health and Social
Support Regulation
(2010). At the level of Ministry of Education, coordination and
implementation team for inclusive education was formed. Significant support to the promotion of
inclusive education was provided thanks to the Government Delivery of Improved Local
Services (DILS) Project. Ministry of Education built up the network of support for the teachers
and schools in order to carry out inclusive education practice. Thus, the team for providing
practical and administrative help was appointed in every school board. Special inclusive teams
were formed in schools and teaching and other expert staff was trained in order to strengthen the
professional competence when implementing inclusive education.
Interdepartmental commissions take special place in the development of inclusive
education system and they were formed for the purpose of fulfillment of inclusive education
politics at the local level.
Initial training of full members and interdepartmental commission coordinators was
finished at the beginning of 2011, when the commissions commenced their work. The role and
integration of interdepartmental commissions are defined by The Law on the Fundamentals of
the Education System
(2009), Additional Child Education, Health and Social Support
RegulationÜ (2010) and Intradepartmental Commission for the Evaluation of Giving Additional
Education, Health or Social Support to a Child/Student Guideá (2010).
Role of Interdepartmental Commission in Inclusive Education
The key legal act which defines education system approach for all children and pupils
under equal conditions is The Law on the Fundamentals of the Education System from 2009.
According to this law, children and pupils from marginalised and sensitive groups as well as
children with developmental difficulties and physical disability, starting from the school year
2010/2011, are educated in regular education system according to the individual education
plan (further in the text IEP) with additional education, health and social support provided
and also with monitoring of their development. Interdepartmental Regulations closely regulates
conditions on evaluating the needs for providing additional education, health or social support to
a child and pupil as well as the structure and the methods of Interdepartmental commissions.
More detailed instructions on implementation are found in Regulations and Guide.
Forming interdepartmental commissions was the result of strategic orientation towards
the development of inclusive education; in comparison with commissions for examining disabled
children which operated previously (Decision on criteria for categorizing disabled children and
commission for examining disabled children methods,
1986), new interdepartmental
commissions have essentially different role. Earlier only disabled children were categorised and
the focus was on identifying childís difficulties and health disturbances. In these terms, there was
not a suggestion of a plan for the support and monitoring, thus, parents were not included in
evaluation procedure and commissionís decision was final.
Newly formed interdepartmental commissions deal with the evaluation of needs for
additional support, and not with the categorization of children; evaluation is available to children
Ü Further in the text: Regulation.
á Further in the text: Guide.
Interdepartmental commissions and inclusive PE
from all socially sensitive groups, who need additional support in education, health or social care
due to social deprivation, developmental difficulties, physical disability, difficulties in learning
process and other difficulties. Interdepartmental commission does not have the authorization to
refer a child to a school or an institution and the role of a parent in the evaluation process is of
major significance. Except for the parents, full participation and cooperation of a child in
evaluation process is planned as well as including people of trust and peers into the process if
necessary. Except for the evaluation of needs, interdepartmental commission opinion (in further
text commission) also contains individual plan of support with specified goals, activities, activity
holders and deadlines.
The Law on the Fundamentals of the Education System (2009), in its article, according to
which every child who turns at least six and a half and seven and a half at most enrolls in the first
grade, presents inclusive education basics. In that way, education becomes available to all
children, however, additional support is necessary for some children in order to be fully included
in education process and to progress. Commissions are dealing with evaluation of needs for
additional support in the field of education, health and social care and these need to provide a
child with conditions for development, learning and equal conditions in participating in the
community life (Guide, 2010). In order for this evaluation to be carried out, commission consists
of three full members and two variable members. Full commission members are a health care
system representative (pediatrician), educational system representative
(school psychologist)
social care system representative (social worker). Every commission member, in terms of the
system he represents, evaluates the need for support and additional forms of support for the
children in sensitive groups. Variable commission members can be representatives of
educational system, health and social care system whose engagement is essential in order to
function efficiently in a specific case. As an educational system representative a teacher can be
hired at the school which a child attends, which means that a physical education teacher can also
be hired. A commission coordinator is in charge of providing professional and administrative-
technical support. Coordinators participate in commissionís work, but do not have the right to
make decisions.
Evaluation process for providing additional education, medical or social support to a
child has as its purpose to devise a child/pupil individual support plan. Evaluation process starts
with filing a petition, that is, with starting a parent/guardian initiative, education, medical or
social care institution initiative. In case of a parent not being the person to start the initiative
institutions are bound to get parentís written consent for starting the procedure. The request is
submitted to a chosen doctor who forwards it to a commission coordinator. During the evaluation
process all relevant data is collected in order to get the complete picture about the child and its
environment. Commission members form a reasoned conclusion which also contains a
suggestion of an individual plan for a child. For all the phases of this process there are deadlines.
In the evaluation process all commission members use different sources of information
from a parentís opinion, through child observation to doctor specialistís tests and expert opinions
who work with the child (nursery teacher, teacher, coach, speech therapist and others).
Members systematise collected information, significant on the point of view of the
system they represent (educational, medical or social care), into a form through the following
units (coherent parts):
Life conditions;
Description of a child and its functioning;
Support to which the child and the family are entitled to according to existing
regulations in educational field (regardless of using them earlier or not) ;
V. -orði„ and T. Tubi„
Rights given by the Regulations on IEP in the field of education, such as making a
pedagogical profile, support plan measures for removing not only physical, but also obstacles in
communication, IEP, pedagogical assistant, personal assistant and other.
Support which the child has been provided with in appropriate system;
Provided services (services and support that child is using and that do not include
mentioned system support).
Every commission member gives his own opinion on the necessity of a support and
additional support and suggests concrete support and additional support. Commission members
together suggest individual support plan for the child and it contains general purpose of a support
, defines expected changes/results, describes activities, services, measures which will lead to the
fulfillment of a plan, appoints people/institutions responsible for the realization of given
activities and determines deadline for realisation of the activities. Commissions are bound to
keep the prescribed record and documentation and to inform local self government and ministry
about their work.
The First Work Experiences of Interdepartmental Commissions
Within the scientific project named ì Inclusive physical education in schools of
Vojvodina : challenges and prospects ì where the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education in
Novi Sad is in charge of the project and it is partly financed by Provincial Secretariat for Science
and Technological Development, a research of different aspects of inclusive education was
conducted. Having in consideration the importance of commissions for immediate carrying out
of inclusive education policy at the local level, here we have shown initial data about the first
experiences of commission. As previously said, at the beginning of
2011, within the
implementation of new Regulations which regulate inclusive education in the Republic of Serbia,
commissions were formed at the local self government level. On the territory of Autonomous
Province of Vojvodina
39 commissions were formed. In order to get insight into initial
experiences of the commissionís work we made a short questionnaire for commission
coordinators and sent it to all coordinators in Vojvodina. The data from all 30 local governments
were collected (76.9%), and also from all administrative districts: North BaËka district (1
commission), Central Banat district (5), North Banat district (2), South Banat district (6), West
BaËka district (4), South BaËka district (6) and Syrmia district (6). Results are obtained from
North BaËka district, Central Banat district and West BaËka district. Data from Novi Sad,
Province Administrative and Economic Centre are not included into this overview.
Questionnaire filled in by commission coordinator consisted of few segments: 1) data on
the number of children referred to commission, including their structure on age and sex; 2) data
on request/initiative applicants; 3) data on the number of children for whom individual plan of
support is suggested; 4) data on the number of children for whom evaluation of needs is made,
and who are enrolled for primary school; 5) data on the number of children for whom evaluation
of needs is made, and who are enrolled for secondary school; 6) data on the number of
challenged children; 7) data on the number of children for whom the support in education is
8) data on the number of complaints about commission work, and 9) existing
coordinators experience in commission work.
Based on the data obtained, it can be concluded that the total number of children, who
were referred to commissions during the school year 2010/2011 in Vojvodina, where 30 local
self governments were observed, amounted to 595. Minimum number of children (two per town)
was referred to commission in Nova Crnja, Opovo and SeËanj (10% of the total number of local
self governments). In 21 local self governments, the number of children referred to commission
varied from 11 to 30 which makes 70% out of the total number of municipalities included. In
Interdepartmental commissions and inclusive PE
two local self governments in South Banat district (PanËevo and Kovin) more than 90 children
(92, that is 99 children) were referred to a commission.
Among the children referred to a commission there were more boys than girls IRK; 360
boys (60.5% of total number of children), against 235 girls (39.5%). The use of Chi-square test
confirmed that we have distribution that largely differs from theory, and this indicates that there
are more boys in the target population who need additional support in education, medical and
social care, states commission (˜2=12.78, df (1), p=.0003).
Regarding their age, primary school children dominate (460 or 77.3%), then pre-school
children, (113; 19.0%), and finally secondary school children (22; 3.7%). The use of Chi-square
test confirms significant variation from the expected (˜2=268.76, df (2), p<<.0001).
Not being able to obtain more precise data on the proportion of children referred to a
commission in relation to reference group, we compared the number of referred pre-school and
primary school children in the observed environment with the total number of children aged 14
in the same environments (according to census in
2002ß). Except for one municipality this
percentage does not exceed 1%, it can be found in the range between 0.05 and 0.53%. In school
conditions, this means that we would find one pupil who would be referred to a commission for
evaluating additional support needs in 6 to 7 average classes. Of course, this data represents
evaluation of current situation, but for having in-depth overview it would be necessary to have at
disposal more precise demography. Obtained evaluation tells us about a system which develops,
i.e. initial phase in commissions work as one important new link in inclusive education system in
According to this assumption, data which refer to request/initiative applicant for
evaluating the needs of a child for additional support can be analysed in the same way. In the
majority of cases applicant is educational institution (nursery or school) ñ 353 cases or 58.5%.
Parents made initiative in 219 cases (36.3%), medical institutions in 21 cases (3.5%) and social
care institutions in 10 cases (1.7%). It is obvious that, in this early phase, educational institutions
are of greatest importance in identifying children who potentially need additional support in
social, medical or educational field, all this due to its awareness and the fact that they are well
informed. Having in consideration a wide range of pupils inside the educational system in
Vojvodina, trained staff in pre-school institutions and schools as well as availability of reference
groups which make it easier to make evaluation on additional support provided for an individual,
it is expected that educational institutions have important significance in recognising children
with these needs. From the aspect of efficiency and due to the fact that this project is in its initial
phase, it is vital to provide support for children as soon as possible. Special attention should be
devoted to further development of professional skills of pre-school teachers in the field of
inclusive education. Concerning the data on parents as participants and applicants in evaluation
process; further development of this inclusive education system and its transparency should
contribute to significant role of a parent as in this phase. Medical and social care institutions are,
at the moment, marginalised when we talk about starting the initiative in evaluation process,
thus, there is enough room for improvements.
Based on the data from 28 local self governments it is asserted that of total number of
children referred to a commission (487 children) individual plan of support was suggested for
378 children (77.2%). Viewed from the point of view of a single local self government, that
percentage ranges from 33.3 to 100%. In more than third of municipalities (10 municipalities or
35.7%) individual support plan was suggested. In other 17cases (60.7%) more than a half of
children referred to commission was suggested for individual support plan, and only in two local
self governments that percentage ranged to one third of referred children. Regarding primary
school children, who passed evaluation about individual needs process, a great number of
ß Federal Statistical Institute (www.stat.gov.rs )
V. -orði„ and T. Tubi„
children was enrolled at regular primary schools ñ 363, and 90 children at primary schools for
children with special needs, 24 children were transferred from regular primary schools to schools
for children with special needs, and only three children from schools for children with special
needs to regular primary school. Therefore, proportion of the number of children who attend
regular primary school and the ones who attend primary school for children with special needs is
4:1. At the same time, significantly higher percentage of children is transferred from regular
primary schools to primary schools for children with special needs, which is not the case in the
opposite direction.
Speaking of secondary school children, except for the fact that we deal with significantly
lower number of cases, differences on the type of school they attend are obvious. Namely, 13
children attend regular school and 16 attend school for children with special needs. Not one child
was transferred from regular secondary school to school for children with special needs, but from
school for children with special needs five children were transferred to regular school.
In accordance with article 13 (paragraph 2) Guide, record is kept about the number of
children with disabilities and the type of a disability. According to our data, out of 346 children
with disabilities, 84 are children with physical anomalies (23.1%), and 274 children are with
mental disorders (76.9%). This practically means that the teachers will more often deal with the
children with mental disorders, rather than with the children with physical anomalies. Existing
research, however, show that teachers are more inclined to accept inclusion of the students with
minor physical anomalies, rather than the children with major physical anomalies (Center &
Ward, 1987; Rainforth, 2000; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1996; Forlin, Douglas, & Hattie, 1996).
Teachers and physical education teachers who will conduct or who have already conducted
lessons in inclusive classes have to be acquainted with the nature and distinctive characteristics
of developmental disorders and professional support is also necessary in planning and
conducting lessons.
For total number of 425 children commissions suggested support in education. 71.4% of
children were referred to a commission for the purpose of additional support evaluation, which
means that seven out of ten children got a suggestion for additional support in education after a
detailed evaluation. If prognoses prove themselves to be true, the number of the children referred
to commission will grow and rising number of children who request for additional support can be
expected, thus further development of certain competencies among professional staff is vital.
There were only five complaints (1.3%) against commission performance and suggested
individual support plan. Thus, this gives us confirmation that commissions did their job in an
efficient way at the beginning of implementation period.
Problems Identified in Initial Work of the Commission
Initial experiences (i.e. problems identified during the first year of founding) can be very
useful in terms of promoting commissionís work and the whole system which supports inclusion
of children into our society. 23 coordinators (76.7%) out of 30 stated their observations about
past performance which implies that they were very motivated to draw attention to problems and
difficulties they encountered. Analysing their observations and suggestions related to the
beginning of commissionsí work common and key experience of commissions in Vojvodina is
ÑEverything is still at the beginningì. Coordinators drew our attention to different
dilemmas and lack of clarity which they encountered in practice. They overcame those problems
consulting other commissions, Ministry of Education and Science, school boards, schools etc.
ÑInterdepartmental Commission opinion should not stay a dead letterì. Without any
doubt, the biggest challenge commissions came across is the problem of implementing suggested
individual support plan given by commission. This problem has several dimensions:
Interdepartmental commissions and inclusive PE
Lack of financial resources, at the level of local self government, which are
essential for implementation of all prescribed additional supports;
Evident system weaknesses which make impossible fast and efficient
implementation of all stipulated measures (e.g. limited number of specialist services,
waiting too long for medical examinations, lack of certain services, etc.);
Inadequate legal articulation/expression of Opinion as a final document which is
given by Commission. Namely, Commission Opinion is not legally valid, ìit
completely depends on a good will of a person referred toì, also, sanctions for not
stating the Opinion are not prescribed.
As a special problem appears the inability to implement some direct and indirect
additional supports, first of all, including pedagogical and personal assistants for whom the need
exists, but for now, obstacles in including them are insuperable.
ÑIndefinable Commission
members and coordinators status in financingì.
Dissatisfaction of commission members and coordinators with financial status and issues is also
in relation to previous conclusions. Variable members often decline that role and responsibility
because they are not paid. ìOnce we did not get opinion from appointed variable member, some
other members who are assigned as variable members for more children, due to the excess of
obligations that this job brings, simply copied full membersí opinionì states one coordinator.
Extensive and work with a lot of responsibilities, complicated procedure, low fees (or completely
volunteer work) demotivate members and coordinators and this undoubtedly affects Commission
ÑRegulations did not anticipate Öì. Regulations as the principal legal document that
regulates commission work, according to coordinatorsí opinion, is incomplete and with some
deficiencies which make commission work more difficult. ìIt is well structured but some clear
directives are missing, who needs to provide additional support, what is to happen if somebody is
not able, for some reason, to implement individual support plan,ì states one coordinator.
Regulations as well as associated Regulations did not prescribe specific financial sources for
suggested additional supports or defined sanctions for not implementing commission.
Regulations prescribes a number of rights (e.g. hiring pedagogical and personal assistant, use of
adjusted class management, free transport, course books, food, orthopaedic support devices
which do not belong into a group of compulsory health insurance), but it does not precisely
regulate its implementation, which complicates commission work. Besides that, Regulations
does not precisely define regular medical examinations, the role of schools for children with
special needs and their experts etc. Some think that the procedure same as administrative work is
too complicated, they take a lot of time and think that this kind of work should be considered as
full-time job. In that sense, Regulations does not stipulate mechanisms that would force
commission members to take this role and fulfill all the obligations in time. Coordinators are in
lack of precise instructions in relation to evaluation of suggested support plan. Finally,
Regulations does not prescribe two-level commission, thus, the same commission also deals with
the complaints. As a possible solution, making new regulations is suggested and they would
regulate all existing incompleteness.
ÑDeficiency of advisory and professional supportì. Coordinators stressed that there is the
need for additional training and constant support in commission work. Some think that focus of
the training should be on experts in the field of social care who are not included in compulsory
accredited seminars like education and medical workers. Also, training should include managers
and relevant people from local self governments because they have an important role in
implementation of suggested measures in the domain of additional support.
ÑNot just support but supervision of commissionís work as wellì. There is a need for
coordination, monitoring and supervision of commission. Coordinators consider that it would be
V. -orði„ and T. Tubi„
useful to initiate exchange of experience after a year of work. Also, there is a need for
intensifying the role of Ministry of Health and Ministry of Labour and Social Politics, and
coordination of the two ministries with Ministry of Education and Science. In practice,
continuous informing of local self governments by competent ministries and at the same time,
informing ministries about commission work is not fully established. ÑCommission is bound to
make reports twice a year, but so far not even one report was asked for, due to the fact that
tables on performance and record are inadequateì states one coordinator. Coordinators think
that with the monitoring and support, some systems of inspection and control should be
Other suggestions and observations. A small number of observations refer to some
specific aspects of commission work or the institutions that they cooperate with in the evaluation
process for children with special needs. Some problems that schools encounter are identified.
Those problems are: lack of competence among teaching staff in inclusive classes, excessive
number of pupils, inability to hire pedagogical assistants, vague regulations on grading system in
children with IEP, referring children who are able to overcome the problems at school to
commission etc. It is emphasized that there are not enough registered places for prolonged stay
after lessons and those children cannot be included in educational system. There are dilemmas
about article 13, paragraph 2 of Regulations and commission procedure according to it; some
commissions did not classify developmental problems
(physical deficiencies, mental
deficiencies), they considered that this type of opinion should be given by other institution etc.
This dilemma should be resolved in order to assess commission work properly. Some
coordinators expressed discontent at cooperation with local self governments, stressing the
importance of registering/defining all services in local community in order to provide other
services that are not currently available and that are necessary.
* * *
Among positive experiences coordinators emphasize the ones referring to expected
benefits of introducing inclusive education. Then, benefits from commission teamwork and
specification of opinion given by commission in terms of defining outcome, suggested activities,
services, measures, deadlines, people and services in charge etc. in smaller environments, where
not so many children were referred to commission, technical problems were also reduced. More
effective cooperation and coordination was built between commission members as well as
cooperation between them and local self government, however there are mixed opinions on this
Importance of Interdepartmental Commissions in Inclusive
Physical Education Teaching
Commissions are the key element in implementing inclusive education at local level. At
the moment, on the territory of Autonomous Province of Vojvodina operate 39 interdepartmental
commissions. During the first year of their existence, implementation of legal regulations started
which directly formed the evaluation procedure for children who needed an additional support in
the field of education, health and social care. Preliminary data on commission work indicate
significant deficiencies of Regulations (2010) as well as its Guide (2010), and those deficiencies
limit implementation of suggested individual support plan in practice. Taking into account the
fact that for most of the children referred to a commission additional support was suggested, it
can be expected that major number of them will demand special measures and services in the
domain of physical education. Problems with acting upon a suggestion of individual support plan
can directly concern additional support in education, including also physical education. On
occasions, suggestion of additional support can specify free additional sport activities at school,
Interdepartmental commissions and inclusive PE
hiring personal assistant, adapted or special equipment for re-education of motor control,
corrective swimming, free transport, elimination of physical barriers etc. If a commission does
not succeed to provide financial assets for these services and activities or/and locates and
commits services holders in local community, additional support will not be provided.
Also, for implementation of IEP with modified programme
(reduced content and
achievement standards) professional team for inclusive education collects data to form
commissionís opinion. If implementation of IEP necessitates additional financial assets, school
makes official petition to the commission that evaluates the need for additional education, health
and social support for a pupil
(Regulation on Further Instructions for Claiming Rights in
Individual Education Plan, Its Implementation and Merits, 2010).
A commission member, who is a representative of the educational system, makes detailed
evaluation which includes information about learning and the method of learning,
communication and social skills. From the aspect of inclusive physical education commission
Opinion is invaluable because it contains overall insight into childís needs for additional support,
that is, description of life conditions, description of a child and its functioning, support to which
children are entitled to and the ones they use, as well as the services they use but which are out
of the system domain. Identification of barriers that a child and parents face as well as the
support they get in education domain (which can include physical education) present the first
step in planning inclusive education. Of course, it is necessary to always have in mind overall
commission evaluation, because additional support is often needed in the domain of health and
social care. According to empirical data we collected, ìtypicalìstudent referred to a commission
for evaluating the need for additional support, is a primary school boy with mental deficiencies.
In the future period, physical education teachers must intensively refresh their personal
competences as well as school teachers who teach physical education in inclusive classes.
Besides that, physical education teachers, same as teachers or persons of trust can become
variable commission members who, by giving their opinion, supplement commission members
opinion. The initiative for starting a procedure for evaluation of childís/pupilís needs for
additional support was usually introduced by education institutions. Thus, this fact stresses the
importance of the role of all teachers, including physical education teachers in identification of
children from sensitive social groups.
Center, Y., & Ward, J. (1987). Teachersí attitudes towards the integration of disabled children
into regular schools. The Exceptional Child, 34, 41-56.
Forlin, C., Douglas, G., & Hattie, J. (1996). Inclusive practices: How accepting are teachers?
International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 43(2), 119-133
Jovanovi„, V., Zaviöi„, V., Lazarevi„, S. i Jerotijevi„, M. (2010). PriruËnik za rad interresorne
Komisije za procenu potreba za pruûanjem dodatne obrazovne, zdravstvene ili socijalne
podröke detetu i uËeniku [Intradepartmental Commission for the Evaluation of Giving
Additional Education, Health or Social Support to a Child/Student Guide]. Beograd:
Ministarstvo prosvete Republike Srbije.
Odluka o kriterijumima za razvrstavanje dece ometene u razvoju i naËinu rada Komisije za
pregled dece ometene u razvoju [Decision on criteria of classifying challenged children
and medical commission work methods] (1986). Sluûbeni Glasnik SRS, 15.
Pravilnik o bliûim uputstvima za utvrðivanje prava na individualni obrazovni plan, njegovu
primenu i vrednovanje
[Regulation on Further Instructions for Claiming Rights in
V. -orði„ and T. Tubi„
Individual Education Plan, Its Implementation and Merits]. (2010). —ÎÛÊ·ÂÌË „·ÒÌËÍ
-—, 76.
Pravilnik o dodatnoj obrazovnoj, zdravstvenoj i socijalnoj podröci detetu i uËeniku [Additional
Child and Student Education, Health and Social Support Regulation]. (2010). Sluûbeni
glasnik RS, 63.
Rainforth, B. (2000). Preparing teachers to educate students with severe disabilities in inclusive
settings despite contextual constraints. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe
Handicaps, 25(2), 83-91.
Salamanca statement and framework for action on special needs education (1994). Paris:
Scruggs, T. E., & Mastropieri, M. A. (1996). Teacher perceptions of mainstreaming/inclusion,
1958-1995: a research synthesis. Exceptional Children, 63(1), 59-74.
United Nations (1948). Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Retrieved August 8, 2011,
from http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml
United Nations (1989). Convention on the Rights of the Child. Retrieved August 8, 2011, from
United Nations (2001). United Nations Millennium Declaration. Retrieved August 8, 2011, from
Zakon o osnovama sistema obrazovanja i vaspitanja [The low on the fundamentals of the
education system]. (2009). Belgrade: Ministry of Education.
Submitted July 15, 2011
Accepted October 25, 2011
Research article
Volume 3, No. 2, 2011, 67-77
Saöa Radosav*
Faculty of Sport and Physical Education
University of Novi Sad, Serbia
The Outdoor activities course is an important and very specific segment of study programs
which prepare future teachers of physical education and recreation, instructors and similar
professional profiles. With the purpose of creating a new concept of course or improve the
existing one according to the attitude college students have to the Outdoor activities course,
students of the Faculty and Sport and Physical Education were surveyed. The sample consisted
of 191 college students of both gender who attended the Outdoor activities courses during the
academic years 2000/2001, 2001/2002, 2002/2003. The sample was evaluated by the Likert scale
and the following aspects were included: attitude towards the conditions of course delivery,
content, organisation and implementation of the lessons of skiing and camping. Majority of
students expressed the affirmative attitudes towards skiing and camping. The obtained results
were used in a new conceptualisation of the Outdoor activities course.
Keywords: outdoor activities, teaching, college students, attitudes
Even though outdoor activities, in the form if camping and skiing, are an obligatory
course in the curriculum of the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, there has been no
unique understanding, opinion and attitudes on behalf of professors, teacher assistants and
students with respect to conceptualisation, organisation and course delivery. There is no enough
agreement on behalf of all participants when it comes to expected learning outcomes of the
course (knowledge, skills, values which will be acquired after successful fulfillment of all duties
related to the course), selection of relevant course content, as well as direct organisation and
delivery of camping and skiing.
A special practical significance belongs to the choice of location suitable for summer and
winter outdoor activities and fulfillment of optimal conditions for the implementation of all
* Corresponding author. Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Lov„enska 16, 21000
Novi Sad, Serbia, e-mail: jazzer66@gmail.com
© 2010 Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
S. Radosav
planned activities, together with the price of accommodation and food, which, in the existing
economic situation in the society, has to be adjusted to the abilities of the students and their
The programmed and applied course content should have, first of all, the function of
acquiring the necessary expert knowledge and competences. Besides, it should be interesting and
applicable in educational institutions, and adjustable to various age groups and levels of students.
Apart from the educational content, the classes of camping and skiing also include a recreational
part aiming at developing studentsí interests in those types of activities. Outdoor activities are an
integral part of the school curriculum, not only of the compulsory, but also of the optional
Many scientific studies, over a hundred of them, have proved that spending time outdoors
and many recreational activities in the natural surroundings create peopleís positive
physiological and psychological reactions, including stress reduction and general well-being
(Thompson Coon et al., 2011; Lewis, 1996).
First-hand experience of the nature and living in accordance with it cannot be replaced
with either the best educational means or sports equipment used for education and trainings in
gyms or other indoor spaces, not even if it is performed by the best teachers or trainers. They
cannot replace those sensory moments when a personís or a childís attention is focused on the
natural occurrences, sunrays emerging through leaves, sounds and movements of plants in the
wind, experiencing sand, soil, water, flora and fauna, endless views of the nature (Moor, 1996).
That is especially important for the people and children living in cramped spaces.
Taking into account not only the importance of outdoor activities, but also the necessity
of good conceptualisation of the Outdoor activities course as a very important segment of the
education at the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, as well as the fact that opening the
educational process at the university involves students in all areas to a higher degree, the attitude
of the students from the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education in Novi Sad was examined,
with the purpose of taking their attitudes into account during making new or modifying the
existing concepts of the course, practical organisation and implementation.
The empirical research was made on the adequate sample including three generations of
students of the 3rd and 4th year of studies (total of 191 students) who attended the Outdoor
activities courses in the period 2000-2003 at the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education in Novi
Sad. The students filled in a questionnaire after attending both theoretical and practical lessons
(skiing and camping) of the Outdoor activities course.
The evaluation of studentsí attitudes towards outdoor activities was done by using a
special questionnaire (see the Appendix). Apart from this demographic variable (gender, way of
financing the studies), the questionnaire consisted of 22 items which included different aspects
of the Outdoor activities course, from satisfaction with the choice of location and lasting of the
course, to the attitudes towards the implemented educational program. 18 items were positively
oriented, in other words agreeing with the claim involved a positive attitude, while 15 items were
negatively oriented (agreeing with the claim involved a positive attitude). Out of 33 items, 21
included summer camping, while 12 included skiing. The questionnaire consisted of four
segments: Place and conditions of camping (VAR1-VAR6), Applied program and gained
Conceptualisation of Outdoor activities course
knowledge about camping (VAR7-13), Organisation and implementation of camping (VAR14-
21) and Organisation and implementation of skiing (VAR22-33). The attitudes were evaluated
by implementing the Likert scale which included
5 verbal categories with the following
meaning: I totally disagree with the claim (1); I partially disagree with the claim (2); I have no
attitude towards the claim (3); I partially agree with the claim (4); I totally agree with the claim
(5). Taking into account a lot of claims in the questionnaire, they are marked by the ordinal
number of the items (see the Appendix).
Data processing
The obtained data were processed by using parametrical procedures. Parametrical
statistical procedures were used for establishing the central (arithmetic mean) and dispersive
parameters (minimal value (min), maximal value (max) and standard deviation - S). The
Multivariate (MANOVA) and Univariate (ANOVA) Analysis of Variance were used to establish
the multivariate and univariate statistical significance between the arithmetic means in the
system of all applied variables of the attitudes,according to activities and putting the attitudes in
Central and dispersive statistical parameters on the level of the whole sample are showed
in the table 1. According to the average scores of certain items, it can be concluded that the
examinees expressed a high degree of agreeing (score 4.0 and higher) for all 18 positively
formulated items. When the negative items are taken into account, a high degree of disagreement
(score 2.0 and less) was expressed for 18 out of 15 items. The highest disagreement (4.80) was
expressed for the claim ìSkiing is nice and interestingî (VAR24), while extremely positive
attitudes are expressed for three more items belonging to the segment organisation and
implementation of skiing: VAR31 (4.79), VAR22 (4.75), VAR27 (4.72). Very high scores also
included the items VAR15 and VAR 22, which referred to the organisation and implementation
of camping. High average scores were also obtained for the claims VAR10 and VAR8 which
belonged to the segment Applied programs and obtained knowledge about camping (4.71, or
4.67). Arithmetic means around the average value of the scale, which indicated a neutral attitude,
were obtained for the items VAR23 (2.93) and VAR25 (2.72) which included the price and how
long the course was. Items VAR2 (the price of camping) and VAR5 (camping at the seaside)
showed arithmetic means close to the average value from the scale.
Dispersive measuring showed that the sample was rather heterogeneous with respect to
agreement with the offered claims; the maximum range of results (from 1.00 to 5.00) was
obtained for all items, while the values of the coefficient of variations varied from 12.58%
(VAR15: I had a chance to get to know my colleagues while camping) to 70.65% (VAR4:
Regardless of the price, Iíd rather go camping at the seaside).
S. Radosav
Table 1
Central and dispersive statistical parametres
VARl (-)
VAR2 (+)
VAR3 (-)
VAR4 (-)
VAR5 (-)
VAR6 (+)
VAR7 (+)
VAR8 (+)
VAR9 (+)
VARll (-)
VAR12 (-)
VAR13 (+)
VAR14 (+)
VAR15 (+)
VAR16 (-)
VAR17 (+)
VAR18 (-)
VAR19 (+)
VAR20 (-)
VAR21 (-)
VAR22 (+)
VAR23 (+)
VAR24 (+)
VAR25 (-)
VAR26 (+)
VAR27 (+)
VAR28 (+)
VAR29 (-)
VAR30 (-)
VAR31 (+)
VAR32 (+)
VAR33 (-)
M ñ Arithmetic Mean; SD ñ Standard Deviation; CV ñ Variability Coefficient; Min ñ minimum; Max ñ Maximum
In order to examine the agreement of students from different generations with respect to
their attitudes towards various aspects of the subject Outdoor activities, the analyses MANOVA
and ANOVA were used to examine the significance of the differences among three generations
of students at the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education in Novi Sad (Tables 2-5).
Testing the significance of the differences in the whole system of variables (in total 33)
by MANOVA showed that among the three groups of students statistically significant
differences exist (Î=.47; p=.00).
In the subspace of the variables which refer to the location and conditions of camping
(Table 2) it was established that there were some statistically significant differences among the
Conceptualisation of Outdoor activities course
groups in two out of six variables (VAR5 and VAR6). These variables included the attitude
towards camping at the seaside, or the quality of food during camping, where the second
generation of students differed from the first and third generation according to their attitudes.
Table 2
Significance of differences between groups: Location and conditions of camping
Variables M1 M2 M3 F
VAR1 (-)
VAR2 (+)
VAR3 (-)
VAR4 (-)
VAR5 (-)
VAR6 (+)
M1 - Generation of students 2000/01, M2 ñ generation of students 2001/02, M3 ñ Generation of students 2002/03
When it comes to the applied programs and gained knowledge about camping (Table 3),
significant differences were detected for only two variables (VAR9 and VAR12) out of seven.
Those variables refer to the educational character of the programs and their applicability in
Table 3
Significance of differences between groups: Implemented programmes and gained knowledge
during camping
VAR7 (+)
VAR8 (+)
VAR9 (+)
VAR10 (+)
VAR11 (-)
VAR12 (-)
VAR13 (+)
M1 - Generation of students 2000/01, M2 ñ generation of students 2001/02, M3 ñ Generation of students 2002/03
With reference to the attitudes which refer to the organisation and implementation of
camping (Table 4), it can be noticed that all three observed generations of students exprssed high
agreement on this subject, since significant differences are seen in only three variables, out of
eight which define this domain. Those are the variables: VAR16 (I did not find the activities
during camping interesting), VAR17 (The camping course was well-organized) and VAR21 (I
am not interested in camping).
S. Radosav
Table 4
Significance of differences between groups: Organisation and implementation of camping
VAR14 (+)
VAR15 (+)
M1 - Generation of students 2000/01, M2 ñ generation of students 2001/02, M3 ñ Generation of students 2002/03
The highest agreement among the students of three generations was showed for the
attitudes towards the organisation of skiing
5). Namely, there were no statistically
significant differences for any out of 11 variables which define this area.
Table 6
Significance of differences among groups: Organisation and implementation of skiing
VAR22 (+)
VAR23 (+)
VAR24 (+)
VAR25 (-)
VAR26 (+)
VAR27 (+)
VAR28 (+)
VAR29 (-)
VAR30 (-)
VAR31 (+)
VAR32 (+)
VAR33 (-)
M1 - Generation of students 2000/01, M2 ñ generation of students 2001/02, M3 ñ Generation of students 2002/03
The survey conducted at the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education in Novi Sad which
included the examination of the studentsí attitudes towards the Outdoor activities course, took
place with the purpose of improving the existing concept of the course according to the results,
or creating a new concept which would be more suitable for the needs and attitudes of the
Conceptualisation of Outdoor activities course
students. This approach has its roots in an ever-present demand to include students as equal
participants in the life of the faculty by asking them the questions about the curriculum, even if
self-evaluation is included.
The obtained results show that the students have very positive attitudes towards different
aspects of the Outdoor activities course, even though dispersive measures show that the sample
was rather heterogeneous about agreeing with the offered claims.
In order to obtain as objective results as possible, the survey included three generations
(from 2000/01 to 2002/03). By testing the significance of the differences among those three
groups, we wanted to identify those aspects of the courses which cause the highest agreement of
the students (no matter which generation they belong to). The results of the multivariate and
univariate analysis confirmed that there is a high degree of agreement among the students of
different generations, taking their attitudes into account. The students expressed very positive
and the similar attitudes towards winter outdoor activities (skiing).
All results obtained in this research are practically applicable in the adequate organisation
and delivery of Outdoor activities on behalf of the teachers, as well as implanted in the
curriculum and organisation of camping, to the mutual satisfaction of both teachers and students.
The interaction in the relationship teachers-students is very important for the innovations
of the curriculum and organisation of practical lessons of the Outdoor activities course, the more
similar attitudes, interests, abilities and the system of values teachers and students have, the more
successful their relationship is (Jajatovi„, 2006).
Bartlett, S.
(1996). Access to outdoor play and its implications for healthy attachments.
unpublished article, Putney, Vermont, 1996.
Jajatovi„, A., (2006). Interaktivni rad: uspjeöna komunikacija izmeðu asistenata i studenata.
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Thompson Coon, J., Boddy, K., Stein, K., Whear, R., Barton, J., & Depledge, M. H. (2011).
Does participating in physical activity in outdoor natural environments have a greater
effect on physical and mental wellbeing than physical activity indoors? A systematic
review. Enviromental Science & Technology, 45(5), 1761-1772.
Zeljkovi„, M. (2008). Analiza stavova i interesa prema nastavi teljesne i zdravstvene kulture
studenata VeleuËiliöta ìLavoslav RuûiËkaî u Vukovaru. U Zbornik radova 17. teljesne
ökole kineziologa Republike Hrvatske
(446-450). Vukovar: VeleuËiliöte ìLavoslav
Submitted October 5, 2011
Accepted December 14, 2011
S. Radosav
Way of financing
1. self-financing
2. co-financing
3. from the state budget
I attended the camping course
I totally
I partially
I have no
I partially
I totally
agree with
agree with
with the
with the
the claim
the claim
the claim
I did not like BegeËka jama as a
choice for the camping location.
The price of 3000 din was
I can pay the expenses of
camping at the seaside in
Montenegro (150 euro or 9000
No matter what the price is, Iíd
rather go camping at the seaside
in Montenegro.
Iíd like to go camping at the
seaside since that would be my
summer holiday as well.
The food at the location of
BegeËka jama was good.
Camping at the location of
BegeËka jama was very useful
as a life experience.
The events were interesting and
The events were educational in
a professional sense.
I gained new knowledge and
experience (putting up a tent,
organisation of a camp,
orientation in the nature, feeding
in the nature, rowingÖ).
I am not satisfied with the newly
acquired experience.
Newly acquired experience and
knowledge cannot be applied
Newly acquired knowledge and
experience will be useful in my
further life.
I liked staying in the nature and
sleeping in tents.
Conceptualisation of Outdoor activities course
I had a chance to get to know
my colleagues during camping.
I did not find the activities
during camping interesting.
Camping course was well-
I was looking forward to the end
of camping and going home.
I would go camping again,
regardless of the subject.
I wish we had gone to
Montenegro instead of BegeËka
I am not interested in camping,
the only important thing is to do
the course and get the necessary
I like skiing.
I think that the price of 170 euro
for seven days is acceptable.
Skiing is nice and interesting.
I think that 2 seven-day skiing
courses are quite enough.
I learned how to ski.
I wish I could improve my
skiing technique.
I think that two ten-day skiing
courses would be more effective
for improving my skiing
knowledge and techniques.
I prefer two seven-day to two
ten-day courses.
I think that one 14-day course is
an optimal solution.
Without taking money into
account, Iíd go skiing again.
Skiing lessons were well-
I am not interested in skiing, the
only important thing is to do the
course and get the necessary