The five components of fitness should form an integral part of your physical education program. The following are some benefits of using this approach:
- Teaches students what it means to be fit (fitness concepts)
- Creates many opportunities for cross-curricular activities (e.g., nutrition education) that enhance learning across the curriculum
- Offers you a template for creating a wide variety of fun and creative programming
For all these reasons, when our school district won a 2001 PEP grant, the three teachers who wrote the grant (Marcia Schmidt, Cheryl Richardson, and I) made the five components of fitness an integral part of our program. At the middle school level, I highlighted one or two components of fitness in our warm-ups during each week. The first week of the month emphasized cardiorespiratory endurance, the second week addressed muscular strength and muscular endurance, the third week covered flexibility, and the fourth week highlighted body composition and nutrition.
I start planning the five-components-of-fitness activities by making a list of everything I want my students be able to use outside my class in order to lead a healthy lifestyle:
- Fitness concepts
- Nutrition information
- Healthy lifestyle examples
This information guides me in choosing fitness-related warm-ups and other activities. I devote the first 5 to 10 minutes of each class to a warm-up activity addressing the week’s featured fitness component. On Fridays, my students do an activity called Fitness Friday that is linked to the key fitness component for the week. For example, during muscular strength week the students do a muscular strength activity after they finish their heart rate monitor workout (which always serves as the first Fitness Friday activity, since cardiorespiratory fitness is not only emphasized 1 week per month but is also built into the other components of fitness wherever appropriate). I gauge my students’ knowledge of these important fitness concepts by means of two assessments, which are discussed further in the final section of this chapter.
By concentrating on one component of fitness during each week, students develop a better sense of each component and how they can apply it to their everyday lives. They also learn the importance of being physically fit and begin to understand that it takes knowledge and exercise in all of the components to be healthy.