Research Article - Journal of Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine (2018) Volume 2, Issue 2
The Long-Term Effect of a Health and Fitness Testing Program for College Freshman: Does Knowledge Empower Change?
Introduction: Obesity has been consistently linked to conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, type II diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and orthopaedic pathologies such as arthritis. Several studies have examined the effectiveness of health education on the wellbeing of college freshmen with mixed results. The purpose of the study was to examine the long-term effects of an 8-week interactive laboratory-based health and fitness program on vital signs, body composition, anthropometric measurements, and muscle strength/endurance for college freshmen.
Design: This was a between-groups (experimental group vs. control group) study with repeated measures.
Methods: Forty-seven freshmen (17-20 years old) were recruited to participate in the study. The participant’s body mass index (BMI), waist/hip ratio, body fat percentage, heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, grip strength, and muscle endurance (with push-up and curl-up tests) were first assessed at the baseline level. Twenty-three freshmen participated in the 8-week program (experimental group) while the other 24 students did not participate in any health/fitness program (control group) during their freshman year. Twenty-five participants returned to complete the followup testing a year after the baseline testing.
Results: At the baseline testing, the experimental group exhibited a significantly larger respiration rate (p=.001) and push-ups (p=.002) but smaller diastolic blood pressure (p=031) compared to the control group. However, BMI, waist/hip ratio, and body fat percentage were similar between the 2 groups. At the follow-up testing, the experimental group had significantly increased BMI (p=.012), waist/hip ratio (p=004), and body fat percentage (p=049) compared to the baseline testing. Also, at the follow-up testing, the control group had significantly increased heart rate (p=027) and grip strength (p=045) compared to the baseline testing. Between-group follow-up testing revealed the experimental group had a significantly larger waist/hip ratio (p=.012) but a smaller respiratory rate (p=.034) compared to the control group.
Discussion: Freshmen who participated in the 8-week testing-based health program did not enhance their vital signs, body composition, anthropometric measurements, and muscle strength/endurance more than the control group at the one-year follow-up testing. This study suggests that having hands on testing experience and the knowledge of their test results did not provide enough motivation for the subjects to enhance their health markers, or the enhancement due to taking the course did not retain one-year after the intervention.