A Pilot Study of Physical Fitness / Literacy in the Middle School Curriculum Using an Active Learning Paradigm: The THINK Program

International Journal of Research in Health Sciences,2020,8,1,3-7.
Published:April 2020
Type:Original Article
Author(s) affiliations:

Arlette C Perry*, Natasha Cruz, Emily W Flanagan, Carolina Velasquez, Gina Zito

Department of Kinesiology and Sport Sciences, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, USA.


Background: Overweight and obesity levels are alarmingly high in the United States whereas physical activity and physical fitness levels are low, particularly among minority adolescents. Some innovative schools have responded by integrating physical activities into the standard academic curriculum expanding the concept of active learning. However, most of these programs are integrated into an existing curriculum and have been confined to elementary schools. The present study implemented a stand alone pilot program to improve the physical fitness/literacy in middle school adolescents called the translational health in nutrition and kinesiology (THINK) program. Subjects and Methods: A total of 33 seventhgrade students (54% Latino, 30.3% White, 12.1% Black) mean age 12 years, enrolled in the course and participated in a one-semester (5-month) THINK program. A 2-tailed paired samples t-test was used to determine pre- post changes in dependent variables. Results: Findings indicated a 5.88 mmHg reduction in mean arterial pressure (p = .05) following the program. There was also a significant increase in cardiorespiratory fitness (p < .001), grip strength (p = .003), lower body power (p < .001), and the number of curl-ups performed in one-minute (p = .014). Scores on the Exercise Science Test encompassing elements of physical literacy increased more than 29% (p < .001) whereas scores on the Nutrition Science Test improved 12.67% (p < .001). Conclusion: A translational health pilot program using an active learning model can improve physical fitness, elements of physical literacy, and nutrition science knowledge in middle school adolescents.

Subject Characteristics at Baseline (n=33)