Fitness-Oriented Gym Classes Better Than Traditional

by Joy Keller on Jan 01, 2006

In the quest to stave off childhood obesity, schools may want to modify traditional physical education classes to be more fitness and lifestyle oriented. That’s the take-home message that a recent study imparted in the October issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (2005;159, 963–68).

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, wanted to know whether a fitness program could improve body composition, cardiovascular fitness and insulin sensitivity in overweight middle-school children. The controlled trial included 50 overweight kids, who were randomized to lifestyle-focused, fitness-oriented gym classes or “standard” gym classes for 9 months. The children’s fasting insulin and glucose levels and body composition were checked at the beginning and ending of the school year. Researchers also conducted VO2max treadmill tests. There were no differences in age, body mass index (BMI) or sex distribution between the groups at baseline.

The fitness-oriented classes were smaller and used treadmills and other types of equipment, while the standard classes focused more on team sports, according to an article written by Christine Kilgore in the August issue of Pediatric News. The American Medical Association reported that the fitness classes made exercise and nutrition “fun and achievable,” and the limited class size (14 students) freed time for movement and more instructor attention.

Study authors concluded that “children enrolled in fitness-oriented gym classes showed greater loss of body fat, increase in cardiovascular fitness and improvement in fasting insulin levels than control subjects. These findings should help to encourage . . . physical education programs that are effective in providing children with substantial amounts of physical activity.”

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About the Author

Joy Keller

Joy Keller IDEA Author/Presenter

Joy Keller is executive editor of IDEA Fitness Journal and IDEA Fit Business Success, and is also a certified personal trainer, indoor cycling instructor, yoga teacher (RYT 200) and Reiki Master. Joy joined IDEA Health & Fitness Association in 2002, and brought with her a wealth of information about how to fine-tune communication channels, after having spent her formative career years specializing in business-to-business journalism. Before she even graduated with honors from the respected University of Georgia journalism school, Joy was offered a job at one of the most successful trade publishing companies in the southeast, Shore Varrone, Inc. She made her mark in the automotive aftermarket industry as a creative thinker and journalist with an intuitive knack for researching and understanding niche audiences. Joy has worked on several titles, including Auto Trim & Restyling News, Truck Accessory News, Digital Output Magazine, Retail & Construction News, Miata magazine, Ford Racing, and many more. Her passion, however, lies with health and fitness. She was the associate editor of ACE Certified News while working at the American Council on Exercise, and transitioned that publication from a newsletter to a magazine. She has enjoyed 17 years at IDEA, where she has launched several publications, including the award-winning Inner IDEA Body-Mind Spirit Review, IDEA Pilates Today and IDEA Fit Business Success. Joy is a content creator and media 2.0 advocate who takes pride in discovering the unique information needs of qualified audiences, and she is dedicated to serving those needs while following the highest available standards.