Monday, October 25, 2010

After-school Program: A road to an active future

     Overweight children seems to be an increasing problem with today's society.  It has been shown that physical activity has been linked to nearly all major health problems; physical and mental disorders (Classen & Hokayem, 2005). More so, physically activity patterns of childhood and adolescence tends to be the beginning of a lifetime pattern of physical activity participation in individuals when they reach adulthood (Gill & Williams, 2008).  Also, it is indicated that activity declines more so in a person's adolescent stage of life, particularly in females (Gill & Williams, 2008).
     The facilitation on an after-school program to help promote and support healthy physical activity at a young age, may contribute to these children's lifetime patterns of physical activity as they mature into and beyond their adolescent stage of life.  Being an overweight child can be mentally and socially difficult.  Children may experience times where they are put in an uncomfortable situation where physical activity is the main focus, and struggle to partake because of their health status (Powell & Pratt, 1996).  Children are not only pressured and feel insecure due to other children, but also from today's media (Classen & Hokayem, 2005).  Developing an after-school program will allow these kids to become comfortable performing physical activity in a supportive and positive environment, which  may be a helpful starter to a pattern of physical activity throughout their lifetime. It starts at an early age, and getting off to a positive start may limit health risks further down the road.

     The health belief model has a considerable support in relation to health behaviors and medical compliance but limited application to exercise and physical activity. Health belief model includes four components: perceived susceptibility for a particular health threat, perceived severity, perceived benefits of taking action, and perceived barriers/cost of action (Gill & Williams, 2008).
     Decision theory entails the perception and evaluation of relative costs and benefits (Gill & Williams, 2008).  Meaning, a person may generate a list of short- and long-term consequences of an exercise program, then weigh them to determine whether the pros outweigh the cons, in their mind.
     Social cognitive theories takes into consideration what affect self-efficacy has on a person's exercise behavior.  These theories are good predictors of physical activity in various populations, including obese people and people with physical disabilities.
     Behavioral approaches to exercise adherence has two stages: acquisition of the exercise habit (early stage) and exercise maintenance (later stage).  As part of the early stage, shaping, reinforcement control, and stimulus control are important strategies to considered. Shaping is important for establishing long-term exercise habits.  Reinforcement control uses social support and praise during sessions to motivate. Stimulus control uses cues in acquiring the exercise habit (Gill & Williams, 2008).
     Relapse preventions is an important model to consider.  It is often linked to the dropping out of exercise programs.  Participants may first lapse, meaning to "slip" missing one workout or eating something not allowed by a diet. Next they may experience a relapse, which is a string of lapses occurring back to back or over a short period of time.  Lastly a participant may experience a collapse, where they give up completely or return to past behaviors (Gill & Williams, 2008).

    Each individual student will sit down with me and discuss goals and desires that they wish/want to accomplish through physical activity.  I will assist them in producing feasible/reachable goals that will keep the students interested and motivated to continue to participate and return to the after-school program.  Also, during the meeting, I will have them, to the best of their knowledge, make a list of short- and long-term consequences of being physically active. This will help/assist them in developing and understanding of why being physically active isn't only beneficial presently but also as they mature throughout their adolescent and adult years.  By allowing them to realize that starting positive habits and patterns now, may benefit them in the future and possibly limiting health risks as well.
     During their first stage of the behavioral approach, I will start of with basic exercises to develop an interest and establish a long-term exercise habit. I will gradually progress them through exercises, not pushing them over board, but yet not pushing them at all.  I would start off mainly using body weight exercises and making connections to interests that each individual student has to create a positive environment.  By using body weight exercise at the start of the program, the student will become and develop awareness of how there body moves in free space, also to develop a base strength where they are able to control and move their own body weight.  Each program for the students will have a variety of exercises from day to day to keep their interest and motivation toward the exercises/workouts high and positive.  I will allow the students to decide between a 3-days per week or a 5-days per week program, depending on their schedules. Whether they choose the 3 or 5-day program, each student will still receive the same amount of physical activity per week, 2.5-3 hours.
     Lastly, I will give the students an information packet on the benefits of participating in physical activity of at least 30 minute a day, and why it's important to develop an interest and positive habit of exercising at such a young age, as well as, the possible risks of skipping a workout for the wrong reasons.  I would like the parents to go over the packets with their children to help them understand the benefits and also the parents will develop an understanding of why physical activity may be a positive motivator for other lifestyle patterns.

     In conclusion, today's youth have developed more health problems and a greater number of the youth have  developed issues with obesity.  It is important to develop a positive habit of exercise at a young age in hope of these habits causing a waterfall effect on these children's physical activity patterns throughout their developmental stages of life.  The sooner we are able to develop these positive exercise habits, the sooner today and future generations obesity rates can start to decline.  If we are able to get a jump start on this growing problem, the better off the future may be by limiting health risks and disease.

Classen, T., & Hokayem, C. (2005). Childhood influences on youth obesity. Economics & Human Biology, 3(2), 165-187.

Gill, D. L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological Dynamics of Sport and Exercise (3rd Ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Powell, K. E., & Pratt, M. (1996). Physical activity and health. BMJ, 313(7050), 126.


  1. i like that you start off with young children. By starting them younger they will have a lifetime to implement these ideas and reach and maintain their goal. I like the two stage program first achieve then maintain what they did. I like the parental support of having the parents go over the packets. I like that you touched on the relapse it truly is the enemy of anyone trying to maintain a fitness program. Like you said one has to understand the pluses and the minuses. I think you did an excellent job you layer everything out well cudos.

  2. I like that you will sit down with every kid and talk to them personally to see how informed they are about physical activity. This way you know what you need to include in your after school-program. I also like how you will have two different programs for the kids. Even though you have one that is less days you still are aiming for a certain amount of time of physical activity for each program. This will help out with kids having other activities they are involved in or just cant make it everyday. I agree that you need to give the children an informational packet about obesity but I it also needs to be presented so they are taking the information in. A packet alone can be easily not looked at or lost, but if you can get the parents on board with the packet like you suggest that would be great.