By Jean Christou
A 15-MINUTE ‘circular’ workout incorporated into a Limassol lyceum’s PE class, which lasted for two months twice a week significantly improved the overall health of the teens who took part.
Forty students from the Ayios Antonios lyceum voluntarily took part in the pilot study, jointly created with the sports science department of the University of Nicosia.
The control group made up of other students who merely continued normal PE classes showed no improvement in their well being, according to a statement marking the conclusion of the programme.
According to the results, the 40 students who took part, all showed increased cardio-respiratory capacity, had a small but significant decrease in body fat, and a reduction in blood pressure at rest. They also showed improvements in upper limb strength and jumping ability.
The study came about after school students at the school were tested for general PE effectiveness at the beginning and end of the 2012-2013 school year.
In September 2012, an assessment on the fitness of the children showed that 20 per cent of students had increased body fat and only 35 per cent had acceptable cardio-respiratory levels.
Such low aerobic capacity is associated with later health problems such as high cholesterol, poor circulation and hypertension.
At the end of the same school year, the children were evaluated again following a full school-year’s worth of standard PE classes. The results showed that there was no substantial change in cardio-respiratory capacity, body fat, speed, jumping ability, and strength of upper limbs.
“Although through such monitoring we cannot draw conclusions as to the cause of the absence of improvement it is certain that the small number of fitness classes in schools in Cyprus is a major negative factor,” said the announcement.
To see if some changes could be made, the pilot programme involving the ‘circular workout’ similar to those at some gyms where people spend two or three minutes on a workout machine and then move on to the next one in a circular direction, was introduced to see if it would make a difference.
“The professors at the University of Nicosia wanted to offer an innovative programme in the context of physical education to see if they could achieve a substantial improvement of the health of students,” said the announcement.
The advantage of the circular workout is that it takes place at a moderate to high intensity in a short period of time.
“The test results are quite encouraging, since with a small controlled and targeted intervention in the context of physical education we can achieve improvements in the health of adolescent students,” the announcement said.
Researchers are now examining how the initiative could be extended to other schools in collaboration with education ministry.