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The transition from childhood to adolescence is marked by a dramatic decrease in physical activity (PA). Physical education (PE) experiences may contribute to this change but remain underresearched. Using a retrospective survey, we examined whether memories of enjoyment or nonenjoyment of PE relate to present-day (adult) attitudes, intentions, PA, and sedentary behavior. An online questionnaire was completed by 1028 American respondents (18–45 yr). The participants rated their retrospective enjoyment of PE, present attitudes and intentions for PA, as well as present PA and sedentary behavior. In addition, participants responded with their best and worst PE memories in an open-ended fashion. Retrospective enjoyment of PE was associated with present-day attitude (r = 0.37, P < 0.00001) and intention (r = 0.23, P < 0.00001) for PA, as well as negatively associated with sedentary time on the weekend (r = −0.14, P < 0.00001). The best memories related to enjoyment of the activities in class (56%), experiencing feelings of physical competence (37%), and, interestingly, 7% were not having to take PE class any longer or skipping the class. Of the worst memories, 34% related to embarrassment, 18% to lack of enjoyment, 17% to bullying, 14% to social–physique anxiety, 16% to injury, and 2% to being punished by the PE teacher. Childhood memories of PE are associated with PA attitude, intention, and sedentary behavior in adulthood. Intensified research efforts should be directed toward understanding the factors and processes that lead to the formation of memories of PE.
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My Best Memory Is When I Was Done with It:
PE Memories Are Associated with Adult
Sedentary Behavior
Matthew A. Ladwig, Spyridoula Vazou, and Panteleimon Ekkekakis
Physical activity (PA), mostly in the form of play, is ubiqui-
tous during childhood (1). However, during the transition
from childhood to adolescence, an inflection occurs, with a
marked decrease in the proportion of individuals who meet
minimum PA recommendations (i.e., from 42% to 8%; [2]).
Although this decrease is mediated by many factors, one of
the most potentially influential is the exposure to, and the ex-
periences associated with, physical education (PE) during
primary and secondary school (3). For some
children and adolescents, PE represents the
only opportunity for regular PA, making it
essential that it is delivered in a manner that
encourages lifelong PA. However, it is un-
clear whether PE is achieving this objective.
Nevertheless, some empirical data sug-
gest considerable variability in PE experi-
ences among children and adolescents.
For example, especially during elementary
school, PE is often rated as the favorite sub-
ject among children in cities around the
world (4). Yet, for many children, around
the primary to secondary school transition,
their attitudes toward PE begin to become
more negative (5), along with concomitant
decreases in PA. Although the mechanisms
remain unclear and the pattern may not be
universal, these data suggest that, for many
children, their experiences, and subsequent
memories of PE, may shift systematically
from positive to negative from primary to
secondary school.
Arguments regarding the importance of psychological
experiences in PE have periodically resurfaced in the litera-
ture over the past century (6). More recently, Portman (7)
interviewed low-skilled sixth-graders about their experiences
in PE. Many of the students indicated that sport-based PE
was not positively contributing to their feelings toward PA.
Additional interviews have suggested that many children and
adolescents do not understand why they are required to com-
plete certain activities, such as fitness testing (8). Ennis (9) fur-
ther expounded on the potential negative consequences of a PE
zeitgeist in which the focus is on sport and fitness outcomes.
Because of the difference in achievementgoal orientations,
some children may simply not enjoy the competitive aspects
that accompany sports and some games within PE. Despite
these concerns, the debate over the content of PE continues.
Although it seems that PE can be a source of intensely pleas-
ant and unpleasant experiences, to our knowledge, little empir-
ical research has investigated the long-term implications of
these experiences. In possibly the first study to address this
Department of Kinesiology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA
Address for correspondence: Panteleimon Ekkekakis, Ph.D., F.A.C.S.M., De-
partment of Kinesiology, Iowa State University, 237 Forker Building, Ames, IA
50011 (E-mail:
2379-286 8/0316/0 1190129
Translational Journal of the ACSM
Copyright © 2018 by the American College of Sports Medicine
The transition from childhood to adolescence is marked by a dramatic decrease in
physical activity (PA). Physical education (PE) experiences may contribute to this
change but remain underresearched. Using a retrospective survey, we examined
whether memories of enjoyment or nonenjoyment of PE relate to present-day (adult)
attitudes, intentions, PA, and sedentary behavior. An online questionnaire was com-
pleted by 1028 American respondents (1845 yr). The participants rated their retro-
spective enjoyment of PE, present attitudes and intentions for PA, as well as
present PA and sedentary behavior. In addition, participants responded with their
best and worst PE memories in an open-ended fashion. Retrospective enjoyment
of PE was associated with present-day attitude (r= 0.37, P< 0.00001) and intention
(r=0.23,P< 0.00001) for PA, as well as negatively associated with sedentary time
on the weekend (r=0.14, P< 0.00001). The best memories related to enjoyment
of the activities in class (56%), experiencing feelings of physical competence
(37%), and, interestingly, 7% were not having to take PE class any longer or skipping
the class. Of the worst memories, 34% related to embarrassment, 18% to lack of
enjoyment, 17% to bullying, 14% to socialphysique anxiety, 16% to injury, and
2% to being punished by the PE teacher. Childhood memories of PE are associ-
ated with PA attitude, intention, and sedentary behavior in adulthood. Intensified
research efforts should be directed toward understanding the factors and pro-
cesses that lead to the formation of memories of PE. Translational Journal of the ACSM 119
Original Investigation
Copyright © 2018 by the American College of Sports Medicine. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
question, Cardinal et al. (10) asked 293 undergraduate stu-
dents about their sport and PE memories as children and
their current level of PA, measured in weekly MET units.
The only childhood memory that was significantly related
to present-day PA was being chosen last for a team in PE or
sports. Being chosen last for a team was associated with the ex-
penditure of an average of 8 MET units less per week among
men and women compared with those who did not report be-
ing chosen last.
There are various hypotheses as to why PE experiences dur-
ing childhood and adolescence may influence adult PA atti-
tudes and behavior. For example, according to Hausenblas
et al. (11), the most reliable predictor of exercise intention
and, subsequently, behavior is the attitude one has toward ex-
ercise. More specifically, the affective component of attitude
(i.e., whether exercise is evaluated as pleasant versus unpleas-
ant) has been shown to be a stronger predictor of exercise par-
ticipation than the cognitive component of attitude (i.e.,
whether exercise is evaluated as healthy or beneficial versus
unhealthy or useless). Such findings suggest that strongly
valenced emotional experiences, such as embarrassment from
being chosen last for a team due to lack of skill or pride from
being chosen first, may have powerful, long-lasting effects on
attitudes and behavior.
Furthermore, affective responses during PA have received
increasing attention as possible determinants of subsequent
PA behavior (12). An examination of the natural movement
patterns of children would suggest that many PE activities rep-
resent potentially unpleasant deviations from the ways that
children naturally engage in PAwhen allowed to roam free.
For instance, Bailey et al. (1) studied the naturally occurring
movement patterns of children in a naturalistic study using
continuous observation. These researchers coded movements
based on their metabolic expenditure in relative oxygen up-
take. Their results showed that children generally gravitate to-
ward intermittent, low- to moderate-intensity PA, with only
short bursts of moderate- to vigorous-intensity PA lasting be-
tween 3 and 15 s. Therefore, it could be argued that requiring
children to participate in prolonged and sustained-intensity ac-
tivities (e.g., distance running) represent potentially unpleasant
deviations from their natural movement propensities. More-
over, Benjamin et al. (13) showed that children frequently
choose to end graded-exercise tests long before reaching true
physiological maximal capacity and tend to report less plea-
sure or more displeasure during moderate-intensity PA,
whereas adults ordinarily report stable or increasing pleasure
(14). Therefore, by introducing children to incremental forms
of exercise through fitness testing in PE (such as the Progressive
Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run [PACER]), the likeli-
hood of deriving unpleasant experiences among many children
might be increased.
At present, there is little empirical examination of the rela-
tionship between childhood PE experiences and adult PA at-
titudes and behavior. As a first step in this direction, we
conducted a retrospective survey, collecting open-ended re-
sponses of bestand worstmemories from PE, as well as
the grade levels at which these occurred. We hypothesized that
childhood PE memories would be associated with (i) present-
day (adult) attitudes and intentions for PA, (ii) present-day
self-reported PA, and (iii) present-day self-reported time spent
being sedentary (i.e., sitting).
After receiving approval from the Institutional Review Board,
we recruited participants through AmazonMechanical Turk
(mTurk), an Internet service where members complete Human In-
telligence Tasks for modest monetary compensation. Multiple
comparative validation studies have shown that mTurk is a source
of satisfactory-quality data for social science research (15,16). Im-
portantly, mTurk surveys offer the advantage of more diverse
sampling compared with surveying the student population at
most college campuses, leading to improved generalizability of
the findings. In addition, data obtained through this service have
been found to be consistent with those collected in a laboratory
setting (16). Qualifying mTurk users were directed to a web-
based survey platform (Qualtrics
, Provo, UT), which was used
for data collection. The participants were deemed eligible if they
were English-speaking U.S. citizens who were between 18 and 45
yr of age and had graduated from high school. Participants were
paid $0.40 for completing the approximately 15-min survey. Af-
ter following quality control recommendationsfor data screening,
including attention-checking questions that were interspersed
throughout the survey (e.g., The sun rotates around the earth
. [strongly agreestrongly disagree]) and the removal of dupli-
cate Internet protocol addresses (15,16), the final sample consisted
of 1028 participants with usable data for analyses (n
= 392,
= 636, mean
a 4-yr college degree. The racial composition of the sample was
similar to the current racial stratification of the United States
(17) (see Table 1). The sample included participants from
46 of the 48 states in the contiguous United States (see Figure,
Supplemental Digital Content 1, Heat-map of study partici-
pants using Internet protocol addresses,
In the open-ended response section of the questionnaire, we
asked participants to recall and describe their best and worst
memories from PE, if any. In addition, if they reported a memory,
we asked participants to indicate the grade level(s) at which their
memories occurred.
PA was measured with the long form of the International Phys-
ical Activity Questionnaire (18), a 31-item questionnaire designed
to collect PA information across four domains: work-related,
transportation, housework/gardening, and leisure-time PA. For
the purposes of the present study, we focused on leisure-time PA.
In addition, two questions inquire about time spent sitting; these
were used as an index of sedentary behavior.
The Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale (PACES [19]) is an 18-item
questionnaire, in which respondents rate their enjoyment of exer-
cise on seven-point bipolar scales. A higher score indicates greater
levels of enjoyment. Because the original PACES was designed to
refer to a preceding session of PA, we modified the stem of the
questions to target childhood enjoyment of PE. Specifically, the
phrase Think about the exercise you have been doing…” was
modified to For me, physical education (PE) class was…” (e.g.,
something I likedsomething I disliked). The internal consis-
tency of this modified version of PACES in the present sample
was excellent (Cronbach's α=0.93).
120 Volume 3 Number 16 August 15 2018 Memories of Physical Education
Copyright © 2018 by the American College of Sports Medicine. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
Cognitive and affective attitudes for PA were measured in ac-
cordance with the recommendations for scale construction by
Ajzen (20). Eight questions measured affective attitude and seven
questions measured cognitive attitude toward PA. An example of
an affective-attitude item was as follows: For me, exercising at
least 30 minutes per day on at least 5 days over the next week
would be: [pleasantunpleasant].An example of a cognitive atti-
tude item was as follows: For me, exercising at least 30 minutes
per day on at least 5 days over the next week would be: [harmful
beneficial].The participants rated their attitudes using seven-
point bipolar scales. The scores were summed to form an overall
attitude score, as well as separate cognitive-attitude and affec-
tive-attitude scores. Nine of the 15 items were reverse scored.
The internal consistencies for these scales in the present sample
were excellent (for both, Cronbach's α=0.93).
Intentions for PA over the subsequent week were also measured
according to recommendations (20). We used five items rated on
seven-point bipolar scales. An example was Iwill[nottryat
alltry my best] to exercise at least 30 minutes on at least 5 days
over the next week.Three of the five items were reverse scored.
The internal consistency of this scale in the present sample was ex-
cellent (Cronbach's α= 0.92).
On the basis of previous work (10), we investigated the rela-
tionship between being chosen first or last for teams as a child in
PE with current PA attitudes, intentions, and behavior. Therefore,
we included two items inquiring about the perceived frequency
with which the respondent was chosen first or last for teams in
PE class. Finally, we added an item that measured the perceived
frequencyof feeling embarrassed in the PE environment. All ques-
tions were answered using seven-point bipolar rating scales.
Statistical Analyses
Two researchers, working independently, analyzed the open-
ended data using NVivo 9 software (QSR International, London,
UK). We used a combination of inductive and deductive content
analysis, organizing the responses into higher- and lower-order
themes and frequency counts. In addition, we used Pearson prod-
uctmoment correlations to examine the relationship between PE
memories (measured by the modified PACES, team selection
items, and the embarrassment item) and present-day (adult) atti-
tudes, intentions, leisure-time PA, and time spent sitting. Because
we conducted 45 tests of significance, after Bonferroni correction,
the family-wise adjusted level of αwas set at 0.001.
Open-Ended Questions
An approximately equal number of best(n=592)and
worst(n= 599) PE memories were reported. After content
analysis, two researchers agreed on six higher-order themes for
worstand three for bestmemories. From there, each
higher-order category was subdivided into 17 and 13 lower-order
themes for worstand bestmemories, respectively. Finally, we
tallied frequency counts for each of the higher- and lower-
order themes.
For the worst memories (see Table 2; see Table, Supplemental
Digital Content 2, For all worstmemory responses, http://, the most frequently reported ex-
perience was embarrassment (n= 203, 34% of responses). Embar-
rassment was attributed to many causes, including being chosen
last for teams, lacking perceived competence in the activity or
sport, being made to feel incompetent by the PE instructor or
other classmates, or embarrassment from injury. The second most
frequent theme was a reported lack of enjoyment for the activities
in PE, including sports and fitness testing (n= 107, 18%). In addi-
tion, many participants reported that changing clothes in the
locker room was unpleasant, as they felt that their bodies were
on display and were being judged by others (n= 86, 14%). An-
other common negative memory from PE was either experiencing
an injury orwitnessing one (n= 97, 16%). Alarmingly, there were
several reports of bullying within the PE class or while in the
locker room (n= 100, 17%). The distribution of worst memories
showed that these memories became more common around sixth
grade and peaked between seventh to ninth grades (see Fig. 1).
The most frequently cited best memories from PE (see Table 3;
see Table, Supplemental Digital Content 3, For all bestmemory
Demographic Characteristics of the Sample.
Anthropometric Mean SD
Height (cm) 169.51 10.30
Weight (kg) 78.20 23.50
Body mass index 27.1 7.53
Education Frequency Pct.
High school 192 18.7
Vocational 58 5.6
College 375 36.5
University 241 23.4
Masters 136 13.2
Doctorate 26 2.5
To t a l 10 2 8 10 0
Black 95 9.3
White 784 76.3
Asian 94 9.2
American Indian 30 3.0
To t a l 10 2 8 10 0
Hispanic 82 8.0
Native Hawaiian or
Pacific Islander
Other 21 2.0
Percentage of the full sample. Translational Journal of the ACSM 121
Copyright © 2018 by the American College of Sports Medicine. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
Themes and Frequency Counts for WorstMemory Responses.
Higher-Order Theme n(%) Lower-Order Theme nExample Response
Embarrassment 203 (34%) Embarrassed by lack of
competence for the
activity or sport
132 Being horrible at basketball even though
everyone else was pretty good. I was so
bad it was embarrassing.Female, 35 years old
Embarrassed over
poor performance
40 During the physical challenge tests, we each had
to perform the action alone in front of the teacher
and the rest of the class and I almost always
did horribly. Very embarrassing.Male, 27 years old
Embarrassed by teacher 38 When it was the last day of gym in 8th grade,
I had run the mile every Friday that year, but because
school was about to end I sat out. My teacher made
fun of my weight in front of everyone and said it
was som ething I needed.”—Male, 18 years old
Chosen last for teams 29 I remember being picked last for a dodgeball
team and feeling really bad about that.
It isn't a good feeling to not be wanted.
Female, 30 years old
over injury
21 I was hit in the face with a basketball that
someone purposely through [threw] at me
and my nose started bleeding all over the
floor and the coach made me clean it up before
he let me wash myself up and go to the nurse and
everyone was laughing at me and I wanted
to kill myself.Female, 25 years old
Lack of enjoyment 107 (18%) Did not enjoy
fitness testing
43 When we had to run a mile for time. It was
such unnecessary stress on so many kids,
as the athletic kids ran laps around those of
us who weren't athletic.Femal e,
30 years old years old
Did not enjoy
chosen activity
36 All the times we played dodgeball or wall ball
and most of the girls (myself included) would
intentionally get hit with a ball so that we could
sit out of the game.Female, 29 years old
Did not enjoy sports 29 Group sports in general were always the
worst. I'm not good at sports, I don't like them,
and I have no desire to be involved in them,
so therefore I hated PE.”—Female, 33 years old
Bullying 100 (17%) Experienced bullying
during class activities
74 Being the last one picked at dodgeball and
then being singled out and bullied. I was
embarrassed and hit very hard with the balls.
I was picked on and teased.Female,
34 years old
Bullied by teacher regarding
physical competence
17 OurcoachwasalwayshoundingmeinPE.
She would call me lazy and make me run laps
around the gym. I never did anything to
deserve this. I participated just as much as
all the other students.Female, 28 years old
Witnessed bullying of peers 2 I was friends with a girl that everyone hated.
Because of that, everyone treated me only a
step above her. At that point in my life, I still
felt the need to be accepted, so I hated going
to PE every single day. I wasn't brave enough to
stand up for her, so I had to watch people torture
my friend, and feel horrible for not saying
anything.Female, 28 years old
122 Volume 3 Number 16 August 15 2018 Memories of Physical Education
Copyright © 2018 by the American College of Sports Medicine. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
responses, related to enjoy-
ment of the class activities or sports, competitive or noncompeti-
tive PE classes, time spent with friends or outside, or being
allowed to move after sitting inclass all day (n= 334, 56%). In ad-
dition, some best memories related to physical competence and re-
ceiving recognition from friends or the PE instructor (n=218,
37%). Interestingly, 41 (7%) participants responded that skipping
PE class or no longer being required totake it was their best mem-
ory. The positive memories peaked during ninth grade and de-
clined thereafter (see Fig. 2).
Memories of enjoyment of PE via the modified PACES were the
most substantial correlates of present-day attitudes and intentions
for PA (see Table 4). In addition, being chosen first infrequently
was most strongly related to the amount of time spent sitting on
weekdays and on the weekend.
Specifically, Pearson correlations showed that retrospective re-
ports of PE enjoyment as a child were significantly related to
Higher-Order Theme n(%) Lower-Order Theme nExample Response
Injury 97 (16%) Experienced injury 91 This same teacher told me to shake it off
when I injured my finger playing basketball in
PE class. Turns out it was broken.Fema le,
33 years old
Witnessed injury 6 We were doing suicide runs. My group was
sitting waiting for our turn. A girl from my class
was up with her group. After doing a few runs
she slipped and fell onto her arm. Her arm
broke bone popping up and everything.
She screamed obviously but also vomited
and passed out. I will never forget that day.
Male, 30 years old
Social physique
86 (14%) Body evaluated in
front of peers
55 Having to be weighed and my weight
announced to the entire class.
Female, 44 years old
Concerns over weight
or appearance
53 I was ashamed of my body. I'm male, and I felt
I had larger breasts than normal, so I'd hold my
shirt when I ran, in hopes they wouldn't be seen
through my shirt. People also made fun of
my attire, because I'd often wear sweats,
even in warm weather.Male, 29 years old
Anxiety from changing
in front of others
42 Dressing out in locker rooms. I was always
chubby and seeing girls around me who
didn't have to shimmy into their pants or
shorts made me feel like crap when I jiggled
around to do it. I also wanted to shower on
most days, but we did not get enough time
to dress back in after class and the stalls
were not private at all.Female, 28 years old
Punishment 10 (2%) Punished with PA for poor
10 Having to run laps because a certain
student or two decided to misbehave. Also
having to do difficult spelling tests on proper
muscle names and if you got below an 85%
you'd have to run a mil e.”—Male, 30 years old
During basketball, I failed to make a basket
three times in a row and this reduced my grade.
Female, 34 years old
Figure 1: Distribution of worstmemories of PE across grade levels.
Note: 30% of respondents did not report a worstmemory. Translational Journal of the ACSM 123
Copyright © 2018 by the American College of Sports Medicine. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
Themes and Frequency Counts for BestMemory Responses.
Higher-Order Theme n(%) Lower-Order Theme nExample Response
Enjoyment 334 (56%) Enjoyed the chosen
149 When I was in middle school, one of the PE activities
we did involved scooterslittle blue platforms with
wheels you sit on. We would play sports and games on
these scooters, and I fondly remember these classes.
My heart rate was definitely elevated but I really
enjoyed myself, which was not always the case
during cardio exercise.Male, 29 years old
Enjoyed the sport that
was played
11 5 I loved when we played games like dodgeball or a
basketball game. Those were always fun.
Female, 34 years old
Liked time spent
with friends
49 Probably the friends I made during the class. It had
nothing to do with the class or what we were doing,
but my best memories of my PE classes are the people.
(Also some of the worst, go figure.) If I had to pick one
specific day, it was probably when we were running
the mile and our newly formed group of friends stuck
with each other, encouraging each other and just
being positive. That was very pleasant.
Female, 27 years old
Enjoyed Competition 13 We played floor hockey in the gym and it was actually
super fun and I really enjoyed the competitive spirit.
Male, 20 years old
Enjoyed noncompetitive
8Finding myself, one year, assigned to a phys. Ed.
class volleyball [volleyball] team which consisted
entirely of students who weren't very competitive
about it, and who didn't really care if they won or lost
any given round. It allowed me to relax quite a bit,
which I wasn't used to in those classes, which
naturally also allowed me to have fun and to perform
better at the sport itself. It turned something
I especially dreadedcompetitive team sportsinto
something unexpectedly gratifying.
Female, 37 years old
Enjoyed fitness tests 3 Presidents Physical Fitness challenge every year.
Female, 40 years old
Enjoyed time outside 3 Getting some fresh air outside of the classroom on
days when the weather was nice.
Male, 35 years old
Enjoyed getting the chance
to move rather than
sitting in class
2Being able to get up and move and play rather than
sitting in a classroom for hoursFemale, 30 years old
218 (37%) Proud of accomplishment
in class
196 Most of my memories of PE are good. If I had to pick
one, it would have to be the day that I was finally able
to swim the full length (25 m) of the swimming pool.
I think that this would be the best memory because
it is something that I had to work at to be able to
accomplish.”—Male, 38 years old
from teacher
14 I won many awards and made many school records
in elementary school. The instructor would put your
name up on the gym wall. My name was still there for
a few of the records when I went back to see my
brothers 10 years later.Female, 39 years old
124 Volume 3 Number 16 August 15 2018 Memories of Physical Education
Copyright © 2018 by the American College of Sports Medicine. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
current overall attitude (r= 0.37 P< 0.00001), affective attitude
(r=0.40,P< 0.00001), cognitive attitude (r=0.23,P< 0.00001),
intention (r=0.23,P< 0.00001), and sedentary time onthe week-
end (r=0.14, P< 0.00001), but not time sitting on the week-
days (r=0.08, P= 0.007). In addition, embarrassment in PE
as a child was significantly related to current attitudes (r= 0.26,
P< 0.00001) and intentions (r= 0.18, P< 0.00001), but not sed-
entary time on either weekdays (r=0.10, P= 0.09) or the weekend
(r=0.11, P= 0.01). Being chosen first for teams infrequently was
negatively associated with current attitude (r=0.25, P< 0.00001)
and intention (r=0.21, P< 0.00001) and was positively associated
with time spent sitting on the weekends (r=0.16,P< 0.00001), al-
though not on weekdays (r= 0.10, P= 0.002). In addition, being
chosen last for teams often was negatively associated with current
attitudes (r=0.25, P< 0.00001) and intentions (r=0.14, P<
0.00001), although not time spent sitting on the weekend (r=
0.10, P= 0.002) or during the week (r=0.14,P= 0.007). Finally,
there were no significant differences in present-day memories of
PE, attitudes, intention, or embarrassment when the sample was
divided (by median split) into those participants below 30 years
of age (n= 517) and those older than 30 years (n=511;P> 0.001).
PE has the potential to foster lifelong enjoyment and mo-
tivation for PA. However, the present results indicate that, in
many cases, the memories of PE reported by adults are less
than ideal, with negative memories spiking during the period
of transition to middle school until high school. Within many
U.S. school systems, the period proximal to the secondary
school transition is marked by an increase in the level of
sport-based PA (9), as well as the introduction of fitness testing
in PE (21), both of which were reported by some of the respon-
dents in the present survey as their worst memory. The best
memories for PE displayed an increase in ninth grade, followed
by a decline, whereas the worst memories exhibited an increase
around sixth grade, with a peak during middle school and a
decrease around tenth grade. Interestingly, these decreases co-
incide with the age at which many U.S. children are no longer
required to participate in PE (22). Therefore, the best-memory
peak in ninth grade may represent those who elected to enroll in
additional high school PE, presumably because they enjoyed the
class. In addition, the data reported here suggest that PE mem-
ories from childhood and adolescence have small-to-moderate
associations with attitudes, intentions, and time spent being
sedentary years later, as an adult.
The worst memories reported in this survey may have im-
portant implications because memories for negative experi-
ences, especially those with a strong ego-related emotional
component, are typically more salient than memories for pos-
itive experiences when engaging in decision making (23). This
tendency, known as negativity bias,is theorized to be an
evolutionary adaptation due to the relatively more severe
consequences of failing to avoid dangerous situations (i.e.,
those associated with displeasure or pain) than failing to ap-
proach situations that may entail utility (i.e., those associated
with pleasure). Although in modern life humans no longer need
to rely on this bias to avoid becoming prey, this adaptational
mechanism has remained operational and might explain the
strong salience of negative affective and emotional experiences.
The responses listed on Tables 2 and 3 illustrate that adults hold
remarkably vivid positive and negative memories of PE from
their childhood, which may, to some extent, continue to influ-
ence their present-day attitudes, intentions, and behavior.
Because negative affective and emotional memories tend
to be most salient during decision making, it is concerning
that some of the most oft-cited worst memories from PE were
embarrassment in front of peers because of lackluster perfor-
mances during class activities, sport, or fitness tests; evalua-
tions of weight or body composition in front of the class;
and, perhaps most unfortunately, criticism being directed at
the student by the PE teacher. Worrying that the body is being
evaluated by critical observers is the essence of the concept of
social physique anxiety, repeated experiences of which are
Figure 2: Distribution of bestmemories of PE across grade levels.
Note: 35% of respondents did not report a bestmemory.
Higher-Order Theme n(%) Lower-Order Theme nExample Response
Praise from peers 8 Playing dodgeball and I was the last person on my
team still in the game. There was four people on the
other team. I managed to take out all four people
while my team was cheering.”—Male, 28 years old
Nonparticipation 41 (7%) Happy to skip PE 32 The day the doctor excused me from gym at all was
the best day of my life. I didn't have to deal with the
teasing for at least 40 minutes out of the day
Female, 44 years old
Happy when PE no
longer required
9The day I finished my P.E. credits and transferred
to study hall.Male, 40 years old Translational Journal of the ACSM 125
Copyright © 2018 by the American College of Sports Medicine. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
negatively associated with PA in adolescence and adulthood
(24). These experiences reportedly occurred most often in the
locker room environment, where most secondary school chil-
dren are expected to dress out,a colloquial term for chang-
ing into athletic apparel, before and after class. Disturbingly,
some PE teachers reportedly brought attention to individual
physical appearance by publicly scorning students about the
need to lose weight or by assigning extra PA during lessons
because, allegedly, some students needed it.On the other
hand, many of the best memories related to experiencing per-
ceived competence for PA and/or receiving positive recogni-
tion from peers or the teacher regarding performances.
Ironically, 7% of the best memories included PE being over
with or having the opportunity to skip the class. On the other
hand, no participant reported canceled PE or skipping PE as
being a worst memory.
Recurring instances of children being made to feel
embarrassed about their performance could have deleterious
consequences for self-efficacy, an important predictor of both
adoption and adherence to exercise and PA (25). In particular,
these episodes may create negative past performance experi-
ences, the factor regarded as the most powerful determinant
of self-efficacy. In addition, these experiences could reduce per-
ceptions of competence and relatedness, two of the basic psy-
chological needs posited in self-determination theory (26). In
turn, both competence and relatedness are instrumental for de-
veloping autonomous intrinsic motivation for PA, a reliable
correlate of PA participation and adherence (27).
Consistent with Cardinal et al. (10), our findings suggest
that the perceived frequency at which students are chosen first
or last for teams is associated with their PA behavior during
adulthood. It is recommended by organizations such as the
Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE [28]) that
teams be chosen at random. Perhaps attesting to the influence
of such recommendations, our results showed a nonsignificant
trend toward younger respondents (i.e., those up to 30 years of
age) reporting being chosen last for teams less often (M=3.8vs
4.1; P= 0.029) and first more often (M= 3.2 vs 2.9; P= 0.013)
than older respondents (i.e., those over 30 years). However, we
found no differences in PE enjoyment, embarrassment in PE,
attitudes, or intentions between age-groups (see Table, Supple-
mental Digital Content 4, Significance tests for outcomes after
median-split,, suggesting
that there is still room for improvements in this regard.
Translating Results to Practice
Given that many participants in the present sample reported
vivid and emotionally charged memories of events that had tran-
spired many years, even decades, earlier, we submit that it may
be time to crystallize the promotion of pleasure and enjoyment,
and the establishment of an implicit association between move-
ment and pleasure, as one of the overarching objectives of PE
(29). This suggestion is consistent with recent calls in the field of
exercise science for increased attention to the link between PA
and pleasure as a potential driver of subsequent behavioral de-
cisions. For example, national scientific organizations and gov-
ernment agencies tasked with issuing evidence-based exercise
prescription guidelines and PA recommendations are urged to
transition to a tripartiterationale, supplementing the tradi-
tional emphasis on effectiveness (i.e., maximization of fitness
and health gains) and safety with a stronger focus on the
Pearson ProductMoment Correlations.
Variable 12345678910
1. Total PE enjoyment
2. PE level of
3. Chosen first not
often for teams
0.61** 0.61**
4. Chosen last often
for teams
0.45** 0.56** 0.49**
5. Attitude 0.37** 0.26** 0.23** 0.25**
6. Intention 0.23** 0.18** 0.20** 0.14** 0.65**
7. Days of moderate
leisure-time PA
0.13* 0.17* 0.09 0.02 0.12* 0.13
8. Days of vigorous
leisure-time PA
0.11* 0.12* 0.12* 0.09 0.03 0.03 0.71**
9. Hours spent sitting
on weekdays
0.08* 0.10 0.16** 0.05 0.12** 0.16** 0.08 0.08
10. Hours spent
sitting on weekend
0.14** 0.11* 0.19** 0.09* 0.17** 0.20** 0.09 0.07 0.67
126 Volume 3 Number 16 August 15 2018 Memories of Physical Education
Copyright © 2018 by the American College of Sports Medicine. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
promotion of pleasure (30). Because, for many, PE is arguably a
major contributor to critical early experiences with PA, it seems
reasonable to suggest that the promotion of pleasure through
PE should become an integral component of this ongoing
paradigmatic shift.
In our survey, many of the worst reported memories involved
negative affect experienced during fitness testing, an element of
PE that has frequently been a source of controversy among phys-
ical educators, pedagogy experts, and exercise psychologists (6,8).
Therefore, an interesting question for applied research would be
to evaluate the implications of fitness testing, as well as training
for fitness testing, for the formation of memories from PE.
Theoretically (e.g., 26,27), encouraging self-regulation and self-
comparisons, as opposed to externally imposed goals (e.g., keep-
ing up with the recorded pace during the PACER test) or social
comparisons to more skilled peers, should help foster more pleas-
ant affective experiences and a higher degree of self-determined
motivation. Furthermore, data suggest that children may have
difficulty cognitively regulating their affective responses during
sustained PA, as well as PA that becomes increasingly more diffi-
cult (13), such as during the mile run and the PACER fitness test.
Difficulties with controlling negative affect during such activities
could be related to the fact that their pattern (i.e., sustained vigor-
ous intensity) deviates from the propensity of children to gravi-
tate toward intermittent PA characterized by only occasional
and very brief bursts of vigorous-intensity PA. If these theoretical
predictions are supported by empirical evidence, it may be appro-
priate for physical educators and interventionists to devise activ-
ities that more closely mimic the natural movement patterns of
children, thereby possibly facilitating more positive affective ex-
periences and a higher level of intrinsic motivation.
Drawing on concepts from cognitive behavioral therapy and
sport psychology, strategies such as mindfulness training (31)
may be translatable to PE, thereby encouraging children and ado-
lescents to focus attention on their interoceptive responses to PA
and instructing them to maintain pleasure by regulating the in-
tensity of their effort. In this approach, students who seem to
be decreasing the intensity of their physical effort to maintain
pleasure should not be reprimanded, because, as in adults, chil-
dren and adolescents exhibit large individual differences in the
levels of intensity they perceive as feeling goodand bad
(32). Recent work (33) has demonstrated that affective responses
during PE can be monitored with relative ease, using single-item
rating scales, such as the child adaptation of the 11-point bipolar
Feeling Scale (34).
Of particular cross-disciplinary interest, the brain regions (i.e.,
dorsolateral and medial prefrontal cortex) that may be involved in
the cognitive regulation of affect during PA and exercise (35) are
the same regions theorized to underlie general executive functions,
such as inhibiting distracting stimuli or inappropriate behaviors
(36). Therefore, encouraging self-monitoring and self-regulation
of affect during PA and exercise may have implications for other
situations in which these skills are instrumental. For example, in
the classroom, improved self-monitoring and self-regulatory skills
could help reduce inappropriate classroom behaviors (e.g.,
interrupting others, not thinking before speaking). In addition,
emerging evidence points to the intriguing possibility that the
experience of pleasure during PA may be a prerequisite for PA-
induced neuroplasticity and learning (37). These novel ideas sug-
gest that cultivating a culture of pleasure-promoting PE could
prove to be conducive, rather than detrimental, to disciplined
school behavior and academic performance.
Research on methods of enhancing the affective experience of
PA and exercise among adults is proliferating but remains rela-
tively limited. Among children, research on this topic is still at a
nascent stage and warrants greater attention than it has received
thus far. Nonetheless, emerging evidence suggests that some inter-
ventions demonstrate promising efficacy, are easily scalable, and
could help inform current practice. Specifically, the use of
motivational music and video is a widely popular and evidence-
supported strategy for increasing pleasure during PA (38).
Among the strongest moderators of PA-associated pleasure
and enjoyment in studies of adults is the sense of autonomy
(27). Although logistical constraints may preclude offering multi-
ple options for students interested, for example, in sport-oriented
activities versus noncompetitive, PA-oriented activities, PE classes
structured to accommodate individual preferences should prove
advantageous over traditional one-size-fits-all approaches (39).
For example, students with high task orientation should be
afforded opportunities to experience reaching their individual
goals. Likewise, some children may derive the most pleasure and
enjoyment from classes in which the focus is on generalPA be-
haviors, such as those foundational movement skills(40) that
have applications for everyday life (e.g., walking, squatting to lift
heavy objects while reducing injury risk).
Finally, SHAPE America (41) has advocated that, during pri-
mary school, the development of physical literacy, namely, the
ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, respond effec-
tively and communicate, using the embodied human dimension,
within a wide range of situations and contexts,be among the
most important goals of PE. The present results suggest that the
focus on physical literacy may require careful consideration, espe-
cially after the primary-school level, as itseems that some children
may not have developed physical literacy before adolescence. Be-
cause the emphasis often shifts to sport and more structuredforms
of exercise in PE during adolescence, these activities may be expe-
rienced as unpleasant by students lacking physical literacy (69).
Nevertheless, teachers must use caution to avoid situations in
which the noble aim of developing physical literacy is imple-
mented in such a fashion as to result in children experiencing em-
barrassment due to performing poorlyin front of peers or the
instructor, or by grading motor skill competencies. In line with
our previous translational recommendations, researchers and ed-
ucators should not assume that all children derive positive affec-
tive experiences through the process of developing their physical
literacy. Allowing for custom tailoring of activities to individual
student preferences for PA may be necessary and doing so may fa-
cilitate more positive affective experiences along with improved
physical literacy.
Limitations and Summary
The present study is the largest known survey of adult memo-
ries of PE enjoyment and their associations with present-day PA
attitudes, intentions, and behavior. Although the results may reit-
erate long-standing concerns about the implications of PE experi-
ences, the inherent limitations of this surveyshould be considered.
Specifically, this study was limited by its retrospective nature, its
cross-sectional and correlational design, and the use of self-report
to measure PA. Although retrospective recall is prone to various
errors and biases, the high level of detail provided in the open-ended
responses (especially among the worst memories) is remarkable
and points to the type of memory consolidation typically associ-
ated with transformative life events. The vividness and emotional-
ity of the reported worst memories underscores the necessity of
fostering pleasure and enjoyment from human movement as a fun-
damental goal of PE, in accordance with current standards (41).
Although the correlational design of the study precludes infer-
ences about the causal influence of PE experiences on present-day
attitudes, intentions, and behavior, the pattern of correlations
demonstrated consistency in the predicted directions, warranting
follow-up studies, including future experimental interventions.
The survey respondents were largely representative of the U.S. Translational Journal of the ACSM 127
Copyright © 2018 by the American College of Sports Medicine. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
population for race, ethnicity, and educational attainment,
supporting the generalizability of these results to the U.S. adult
population at-large. Although it is possible that recruiting through
mTurk may have reduced external validity (e.g., to individuals
with Internet access, those willing to participate in surveys for
modest monetary compensation), a growing literature has shown
that mTurk participants do not differ significantly from research
participants who volunteer for laboratory studies (15,16).
The open-ended responses from the present study, in particu-
lar, should be concerning to those interested in improving the
quality of PE, including individual educators and national organi-
zations (e.g., SHAPE America). Because of the clear doseresponse
effect of PA frequency on health (42), if improvements in PE expe-
riences could inspire even small increases in PA behavior, millions
could derive additional health benefits. However, just as with neg-
ative experiences in other domains of development, the long-term
consequences of poor experiences during PE may negatively influ-
ence the behaviors and, subsequently, the health and longevity of
children in the United States and around the world. Although we
have offered translational recommendations, implementing these
on a large scale will be difficult, as the required changes amount
to a substantial paradigmatic shift compared with current practice
norms. It seems clear, however, that decades-old arguments con-
cerning the focus on sport in PE programs (7,9) and the pros ver-
sus the cons of fitness testing (6,8) should be revisited. With more
methodologically rigorous and theory-driven interventions, it
may be possible to transform PE into a professional field that
closely adheres to the continuously developing evidence-base
and one that welcomes psychological best practices for the benefit
of children and public health.
No sources of support were used in the preparation of this
work. The authors report no conflicts of interests. The results of this
study do not constitute endorsement by the American College of
Sports Medicine.
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... Whilst still in its infancy, the MPE framework provides a perspective that explicitly promotes meaningfulness for students through their active involvement in the learning process (Walseth et al., 2018). It also seeks to reverse the reported lack of relevance that physical education has in students' lived experiences (Ladwig et al, 2018). ...
... We align ourselves with the thoughts of Beni (2021) who advocates that MPE is an assortment of suggestions regarding the varieties of features that influence a teacher's promotion of meaningful experiences and the involvement of students. This perspective comes from when many students state that their recent physical education experience lacks relevance to their lived experience (Ladwig et al., 2018). Therefore, we value this article to encourage various ways teachers can think about the five features of MPE. ...
Full-text available
This article summarises an experience of one way to introduce meaningful physical education (MPE) to PGCE trainees in secondary physical education known as pre-service teachers (PST). We are a writing team of a senior lecturer and three secondary PGCE PE trainees based in England. Our intentions throughout this article are to share a brief underpinning of MPE, why we believe it is important for PSTs to focus on MPE, and how we approached the intended experience for the PSTs. It is important to note that this article is framed within an introduction to MPE through the lens of PSTs. However, we believe that much of the process can be replicated for experienced teachers at any level. Whilst still in its infancy, the MPE framework provides a perspective that explicitly promotes meaningfulness for students through their active involvement in the learning process (Walseth et al., 2018). It also seeks to reverse the reported lack of relevance that physical education has in students’ lived experiences (Ladwig et al, 2018).
... • Health/fitness/physical activity promotion: This rationale is w ellintentioned but there is no evidence to suggest fitness testing promotes health, fitness or physical activity. There is, however, evidence to suggest fitness testing can negatively impact future health, fitness and physical activity ( Ladwig, Vazou & Ekkekakis, 2018). • Assessment: In some schools, fitness test results are used to assess achievement in PE. ...
... whole-c lass beep test, public displaying of scores) can cause distress for some students. Indeed, Lodewyk and Sullivan ( 2016) argued fitness testing can negatively impact learner body image, anxiety and self-esteem while Ladwig, Vazou and Ekkekakis ( 2018) reported negative affective experiences from fitness testing during childhood lasted into adulthood, thus negatively impacting lifelong physical activity. This should perhaps come as no surprise as we have long been warned this may be the case for some learners. ...
Fitness testing is arguably the most contested Physical Education- (PE)-for-health practice, especially in countries such as England, Australia and the United States of America. The testing of children within PE can be traced back to at least the early twentieth century, but approaches to teaching in, through and about fitness testing continue to be debated. Such debates, for example, relate to educative purpose (i.e. the tendency to focus on fitness testing in isolation as opposed to being embedded within a broader fitness education unit), the placing of students ‘on display’ (i.e. so that it is very clear who the higher and lower performers are) and the presentation and use of test results. One way to respond to the debates related to fitness testing is to expand how we think about fitness testing. That is to say, instead of focussing on ‘what the body is’ (e.g. underweight, flexible, strong) we can focus on ‘what the body can do’ (i.e. culturally, psychologically, socially and physically). Doing so, aligns more closely with contemporary and multi-dimensional understandings of health, and opens up opportunities for more inclusive and educative fitness testing, and PE-for-health practices more broadly.
... Common approaches to investigating this disconnect revolve around understanding students' abilities, beliefs, and motivations to engage/disengage in PE and PA. Student PE emotions have been identified as a key motivational mechanism that influences attitudes toward PA (Ladwig et al., 2018;Mercier et al., 2017;Simonton & Garn, 2019) and provides a conceptual window into understanding student experiences. The importance of understanding students' emotions can be stated directly; positive in-class experiences prompt positive emotions that nurture positive beliefs about PA, whereas negative in-class experiences generate negative emotions that foster negative attitudes toward PA. ...
... The importance of understanding students' emotions can be stated directly; positive in-class experiences prompt positive emotions that nurture positive beliefs about PA, whereas negative in-class experiences generate negative emotions that foster negative attitudes toward PA. Despite PE's potential for building motivation, self-esteem, and self-concept during childhood and adolescence, positive emotional development in these areas is susceptible to falling short due to negative emotional experiences within school PE (Garn et al., 2012;Ladwig et al., 2018). Examples may include learning experiences that exacerbate perceptions of lower skill performance in comparison with others, being called out by a teacher in front of peers, getting picked last for activities, finding the activities pointless, and/or feeling embarrassed about one's body type (Phillips et al., 2021). ...
Purpose: This study utilized the control-value theory of achievement emotions to investigate relationships between retroactive physical education (PE) beliefs and emotions with adulthood physical activity (PA) attitudes and behaviors. Method: An exploratory structural equation model was employed to evaluate participants’ (N = 381) PE emotions, antecedents, and outcomes. Results: Control, intrinsic value, and extrinsic value antecedents predicted several emotions. PE enjoyment facilitated positive PA attitudes, whereas boredom and shame predicted negative PA attitudes. Shame predicted lower physical self-concept in students. Moderate to vigorous PA was traced positively with enjoyment and negatively from relief. Several indirect relationships were also observed that further support the control-value theory of achievement emotions. Conclusions: Emotions are a response to learning and finding value in PE, which clearly impacts PA-related beliefs and behaviors into adulthood. Considerations on the externally driven nature of PE outcomes (i.e., standards/performance) are needed given the juxtaposition for also targeting suggested goals like intrinsic value and enjoyment.
... Adults in that study reported feeling turned off by PE primarily due to experiencing hyper-competitive team activities and uncomfortable social comparisons during games. Ladwig et al. (2018) also found similar results. Participants remembered feeling embarrassed, finding little interest and enjoyment in what was taught, being bullied by peers or by the teacher, and having body anxiety in PE. ...
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Purpose: Little is known about if and how the content taught in physical education (PE) influences physical literacy. This study examined alignment between the content young adults experienced in PE and that which they wished they had experienced (i.e., interest alignment), and that they think is important for health and wellbeing as adults (i.e., importance alignment). Further, we investigated the degree to which perceptions of content alignment predict indicators of physical literacy in adulthood including moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), positive and negative PA attitudes, and physical self-concept. Methods: College students (N= 370) completed an electronic survey concerning PE content alignment, MVPA, PA attitudes, and physical self-concept. Results: Team sports and fitness activities were content experienced most often while personal and social responsibility activities, outdoor education, and fitness was content identified as most interesting and important. Interest alignment positively associated with MVPA (β= .119, p= .03) and negatively with negative attitudes toward physical activity (β=-.154, p< .01). Interest alignment (β= .121, p= .02) and importance alignment (β= .132, p= .01) were positively associated with physical self-concept. Conclusion: The content offered in PE appears to influence components of physical literacy in adulthood. As such, schools should consider revising curricula to include activities that create the foundation of an active lifestyle in adulthood.
... Foi uma estratégia importante, e a manter futuramente, atuando como elemento de prevenção da (in)disciplina, potenciador da relação professor-aluno e propício ao clima positivo de aprendizagem.No último período letivo, essa reflexão foi substituída por um balanço global do ano letivo, que os alunos responderam via formulário do google forms. As suas mensagens, para além de relevantes e marcantes, são um presságio de uma experiência positiva de Educação Física, o que é um elemento potenciador de atitudes positivas para a atividade física no futuro(Ladwig, Vazou & Ekkekakis, 2018;Rhodes & Kates, 2015) missão cumprida.Se eles ao menos soubessem a profunda marca que em mim me deixaram…Figura 3. Balanço do ano letivo realizado individualmente pelos alunos (exemplos).O Desporto Escolar baseia-se num sistema universal e aberto de modalidades e de práticas desportivas, complementares à Educação Física, organizadas de modo a integrar harmoniosamente as dimensões próprias desta atividade, designadamente o ensino, o treino, a recreação e a competição, com a missão de estimular a prática de atividade física e a formação desportiva como meio de promoção do sucesso dos alunos, de estilos de vida saudáveis, de valores e princípios associados a uma cidadania ativa(DGE, s.d.).A atividade do Desporto Escolar, seja em iniciativas ao nível escolar (locais) de promoção da atividade física e desportiva (atividade de nível I), seja na participação regular em treinos e competições (atividade de nível II e III), é dinamizada pelos professores de Educação Física do respetivo agrupamento de escolas ou escola não agrupada(DGE, s.d.), pelo que, enquadrado na AEP3, tive a oportunidade de dinamizar atividades impulsionadoras da prática de atividade física e desportiva na ESDFL e coadjuvar uma professora responsável por um G-E.5.2.1. Andebol: o renascimento de um Grupo-EquipaO AEDFL tem muito boa dinâmica no que respeita ao Desporto Escolar e apresenta uma boa oferta desportiva aos seus alunos, perfazendo um total de 13 G-E. ...
... For example, physical education can provide an opportunity for school-age youth to learn about movement as they gain confidence and competence in their physical abilities in a supportive setting. However, survey data from adults in which they rated their retrospective experiences in physical education found that feelings of embarrassment, lack of enjoyment, and bullying were not uncommon in the context of school lessons (41). Similarly, youth sport can challenge young athletes to enhance their physical skills, learn about persistence, and create strong social bonds, yet the risks of burnout, unhealthy behaviors, and hazing are concerning (42). ...
By reading this feature article, readers will learn: • Insufficient physical activity is associated with ill-mental health in youth. • Physical activity is an acceptable, feasible, and non-stigmatizing intervention that can be helpful in improving mental health in children and adolescents. • Effective teaching strategies and physical activity practices can be used to promote mental health literacy in youth fitness programs.
... Indeed, growing up without sport classes being available at my school and not being encouraged from an early age to be physically active led me to disregard its importance for a very long time. This influence is highlighted in Ladwig, Vazou, and Ekkekakis (2018) study as they found an association between physical education at school and the attitude towards physical activity later in life. On the bright side, with the introduction of physical education at girl's schools, the attitude towards female's physical education would be improved. ...
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The importance of physical activity in improving physical and mental health has been emphasised in many studies. Researchers in Saudi Arabia have reported an increase in physical inactivity among Saudis, especially among the female population in the past 25 years. Current efforts in the field in Saudi Arabia have yet to explore barriers and facilitators that influence women’s participation in physical activity or means of improving their rates of participation. To learn possible ways of increasing Saudi women’s participation in physical activity, this thesis aims to identify approaches to improving physical activity levels among the female population in Saudi Arabia. This thesis adopted participatory action research to (i) assess the current context of physical activity participation among female university students attending the King Saud University (KSU) in Saudi Arabia; (ii) explore means of increasing participation in physical activity among female university students in Saudi Arabia; and (iii) assess factors influencing women’s motivation to increase their activity levels. This thesis comprises two research phases. In the first phase, a cross-sectional survey of 375 female university students, who completed the short form of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, was followed by 14 in-depth interviews with female university students and 16 with female athlete trainers. The second phase of the research consisted of multiple group discussions held over a period of three months, in which 13 female university student participants actively engaged in planning, implementing, and monitoring actions aimed to improve their participation in physical activity. Second phase data collection methods included diaries, audio recordings of group discussions, and assessment booklets.Results from the first phase of the study showed that most participants (91%) spent more time in walking activity compared to moderate (66%) and vigorous activity (57%) for at least 10 minutes at a time over the past seven days. Barriers to their participation included limited facilities for physical activities, academic workload, gender role, and the need to adhere to cultural standards. Facilitators included noticing positive results, general health concerns, and support from significant others. Results from the second phase suggested that self-motivation and social support were significant factors that appeared to influence the young women’s commitment to maintaining physical activity. Knowledge gained from this thesis might provide a basis for organisations and public health authorities to better tailor physical activity interventions that address women’s needs and perceptions. These findings are an important contribution to the current knowledge in light of recent advancements of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.
... In more recent work, Ladwig and colleagues [52] analyzed the PE experiences of over 1000 adults through an online survey comparing their experiences in PE with current PA habits. The results indicated that PE memories from childhood and adolescence have a small-to-moderate association with attitudes, intentions, and time spent being sedentary as an adult. ...
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The value of embracing a physically active lifestyle has been well documented in recent times. However, despite this knowledge, physical activity levels in many western societies remain worryingly low in both adult and youth populations. Habit formation in youth is a key indicator of engagement in physical activity as an adult; therefore, maximising opportunities to develop motivation in young people is vitally important to increase the likelihood of maintaining physical activity habits as an adult. A key factor for the development of motivation is school-based physical education. This review considers the current landscape of physical education as a vehicle for physical activity promotion, and suggests that a change of approach that moves away from physical education focusing solely on sport techniques is long overdue. A culturally relevant curriculum that includes lifestyle sports, with a focus on mastery and enjoyment through a meaningful experiences approach, is proposed as a viable update to current practice.
... A systematic literature review found that affective responses during physical exercise were strong predictors of future physical activity behavior, lending credence to this claim (Rhodes & Kates, 2015). According to research, positive memories associated with physical education classes in childhood are linked to a higher frequency of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activities (MVPA) and less time spent in sedentary behavior in adulthood (Ladwig et al., 2018). ...
The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships between implicit associations and explicit evaluations with affective responses during an aerobic exercise session, physical activity, and sedentary behavior in adults. Fifty adults (70% female, age = median: 31.00, 25th, 75th percentiles: 24.50, 40.50 years old, BMI = 25.29 ± 4.97 kg.m-²) not engaged in regular physical activity completed an implicit association test, a questionnaire of explicit evaluations, and wore an accelerometer for 7 days. After the 7-day period, the participants performed 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. Every 5 minutes, the affective response and the perception of effort were recorded. Participants who had more positive implicit associations toward physical activity (vs. sedentary behavior) reported higher affective responses during exercise and engaged in more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Encouraging pleasant physical activity may act to partially improve future physical activity through automatic motivational processes.
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En este capítulo abordaremos se aborda qué climas motivacionales se pueden desarrollar durante las clases de Educación Física desde la teoría de las metas de logro (Ames, 1992; Nicholls, 1989) para obtener consecuencias positivas de índole afectivo, cognitivo y comportamental. Asimismo, se detallan propuestas y ejemplos que ayuden a los docentes a generar un clima tarea y reducir el clima ego en las clases de Educación Física. Para ello, Ames (1992) inicialmente enumeró seis ámbitos o elementos donde intervenir denominados áreas TARGET, que son las siglas en inglés de tarea (Task), autoridad (Authority), reconocimiento (Recognition), agrupación (Grouping), evaluación (Evaluation) y tiempo (Timing). Manipulando estos elementos conseguiremos promover un clima tarea en las clases de Educación Física.
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Evidence supports a positive association between competence in fundamental movement skills (e.g., kicking, jumping) and physical activity in young people. Whilst important, fundamental movement skills do not reflect the broad diversity of skills utilized in physical activity pursuits across the lifespan. Debate surrounds the question of what are the most salient skills to be learned which facilitate physical activity participation across the lifespan. In this paper, it is proposed that the term ‘fundamental movement skills’ be replaced with ‘foundational movement skills’. The term ‘foundational movement skills’ better reflects the broad range of movement forms that increase in complexity and specificity and can be applied in a variety of settings. Thus, ‘foundational movement skills’ includes both traditionally conceptualized ‘fundamental’ movement skills and other skills (e.g., bodyweight squat, cycling, swimming strokes) that support physical activity engagement across the lifespan. A proposed conceptual model outlines how foundational movement skill competency can provide a direct or indirect pathway, via specialized movement skills, to a lifetime of physical activity. Foundational movement skill development is hypothesized to vary according to culture and/or geographical location. Further, skill development may be hindered or enhanced by physical (i.e., fitness, weight status) and psychological (i.e., perceived competence, self-efficacy) attributes. This conceptual model may advance the application of motor development principles within the public health domain. Additionally, it promotes the continued development of human movement in the context of how it leads to skillful performance and how movement skill development supports and maintains a lifetime of physical activity engagement.
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Apply It! 1. Always remember what the "prime objective" of any exercise or physical activity plan should be: encourage lifelong activity. Short-term adaptations (e.g., weight loss, fitness gains) should be considered secondary. 2. Between allowing clients to choose their own pace and deciding for them, prefer the former but monitor for extreme responses (too low, too high). Setting an intensity even slightly higher than what the client would have selected may reduce the pleasure of exercise. 3. Instructing clients to find a pace that makes them "feel good" is a good method of individualization. The process can be aided by asking them to maintain at least a +3 on a rating scale, called the Feeling Scale, where +5 is marked as "very good," +3 is "good," +1 is "fairly good," -1 is "fairly bad," -3 is "bad," and -5 is "very bad." 4. Just as you systematically monitor heart rate and perceived exertion, make the assessment of pleasure/displeasure responses a part of your practice.
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Social science researchers increasingly recruit participants through Amazon's Mechanical Turk (MTurk) platform. Yet, the physical isolation of MTurk participants, and perceived lack of experimental control have led to persistent concerns about the quality of the data that can be obtained from MTurk samples. In this paper we focus on two of the most salient concerns—that MTurk participants may not buy into interactive experiments and that they may produce unreliable or invalid data. We review existing research on these topics and present new data to address these concerns. We find that insufficient attention is no more a problem among MTurk samples than among other commonly used convenience or high-quality commercial samples, and that MTurk participants buy into interactive experiments and trust researchers as much as participants in laboratory studies. Furthermore, we find that employing rigorous exclusion methods consistently boosts statistical power without introducing problematic side effects (e.g., substantially biasing the post-exclusion sample), and can thus provide a general solution for dealing with problematic respondents across samples. We conclude with a discussion of best practices and recommendations.
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Purpose: A relationship exists between attitudes toward physical education and future physical activity. The purpose of this study was to examine changes in attitude toward physical education as students progressed from upper elementary school (Grade 4) through middle school (Grade 8). Method: Three cohorts of students (Cohort 1, Grades 4-6, n = 96; Cohort 2, Grades 5-7, n = 71; and Cohort 3, Grades 6-8, n = 73) were each followed for 3 years to examine changes in attitudes toward physical education. Results: After an initial increase from Grade 4 to Grade 5, a significant decrease was observed from Grades 5 to 8 in students' positive attitudes toward physical education, with a faster rate of change for girls than boys. Conclusion: This longitudinal study provides further insights regarding the attitudes of students as they progress from Grade 4 to Grade 8 and expands on previous findings identifying decreasing positive attitudes toward physical education as students age, particularly for girls. The results provide evidence to support targeted interventions.
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The economic burden of inactivity is substantial, with conservative estimates suggesting the global cost to health care systems is more than US$50 billion. School-based programs, including physical education and school sport, have been recommended as important components of a multi-sector, multi-system approach to address physical inactivity. Additionally, community sporting clubs and after-school programs (ASPs) offer further opportunities for young people to be physically active outside of school. Despite demonstrating promise, current evidence suggests school-based physical activity programs, community sporting clubs and ASPs are not achieving their full potential. For example, physical activity levels in physical education (PE) and ASP sessions are typically much lower than recommended. For these sessions to have the strongest effects on young people’s physical activity levels and their on-going physical literacy, they need to improve in quality and should be highly active and engaging. This paper presents the Supportive, Active, Autonomous, Fair, Enjoyable (SAAFE) principles, which represent an evidence-based framework designed to guide the planning, delivery and evaluation of organized physical activity sessions in school, community sport and ASPs. In this paper we provide a narrative and integrative review of the conceptual and empirical bases that underpin this framework and highlight implications for knowledge translation and application.
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Physical activities (PA) that are pleasurable are likely to be repeated. Structured gym activities (SGA) are defined as dodging, chasing, and fleeing games. Traditional aerobic exercises (TAE) are defined as treadmill, cycle ergometer, and elliptical exercise. The purpose of this investigation was to compare affect and cardiorespiratory training responses between SGA and TAE in children. Thirty-two participants (9.3±0.2) were randomized to either the SGA or TAE group. Exercise training was seven weeks, with two sessions per week, for 35 minutes per session. Affect was measured by the (+5 (pleasurable) to -5 (displeasurable)) feelings scale. Affect was recorded at the mid-point and end of each exercise session. The 20-meter pacer test was used to assess cardiorespiratory fitness at baseline and post intervention. Affect responses and heart rates were averaged across all exercise sessions. The SGA group scored 2.77±0.2 affect units higher than the TAE group (p < 0.0001). The TAE group significantly increased cardiorespiratory fitness (baseline 47.8±3.8; post 49.1±3.1 ml·kg(-1)·min(-1); p = 0.023) with no change in the SGA group (baseline 46.3±3.5; post 47.2±2.7 ml·kg(-1)·min(-1); p = 0.127). SGA reported more positive affect, suggesting they experienced greater pleasure during the exercise sessions than the TAE participants. SGA activities promote more positive affect, and therefore may increase children's PA participation.
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This article represents a response to an editorial piece written in Pediatric Exercise Science over 10 years ago by Thomas Rowland in which he debated fitness testing and asked whether the "horse" of fitness testing in schools was dead. Here, the authors revisit the debate and consider the progress that has been made with regard to fitness testing in schools in recent years. On the basis of findings from the literature and some of their research, the authors suggest that accepting the fact that the horse is dead would not be a bad thing. Their advice is certainly to pull tightly on the reigns, slow the horse down, and not allow fitness testing to dominate schools' efforts to promote physical activity.
Emotion is often understood in terms of a circumscribed set of cortical and subcortical brain regions. I propose, instead, that emotion should be understood in terms of large-scale network interactions spanning the entire neuroaxis. I describe multiple anatomical and functional principles of brain organization that lead to the concept of 'functionally integrated systems', cortical-subcortical systems that anchor the organization of emotion in the brain. The proposal is illustrated by describing the cortex-amygdala integrated system and how it intersects with systems involving the ventral striatum/accumbens, septum, hippocampus, hypothalamus, and brainstem. The important role of the thalamus is also highlighted. Overall, the model clarifies why the impact of emotion is wide-ranging, and how emotion is interlocked with perception, cognition, motivation, and action.