Professor to study effectiveness of school physical ed programs

Release Date: 1/21/2011

Clarksville, Ark. --- In 14 years of working in public schools, Brett Stone saw first-hand the decline of physical activity among young people, and ever since he has been determined to do his small part to help turn that trend around.

Ozarks' assistant professor of health and physical education, Brett Stone.

Ozarks' assistant professor of health and physical education, Mr. Brett Stone, will be working to help improved fitness level in Arkansas' school-aged children.

Stone, an assistant professor of health and physical education at the University of the Ozarks, was recently awarded one of 23 grants presented by the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas to help improve fitness level for the state’s school-aged children.

“Working in the public school environment, I watched as not only the activity level of children decline, but the desire to be physically active also decline,” said Stone. “Students are just not motivated to move and that’s becoming a bigger and bigger problem in this state and this country.”

Specifically, Stone’s grant will allow him to study the effectiveness of physical education programs in Arkansas schools as well as the differing effects of time and intensity levels of physical activity in school-based settings. The study will involve 800 fourth-graders in Arkansas schools.

“We’re really looking at program effectiveness and how much the amount of minutes of physical activity and the intensity of that activity influence fitness,” Stone said. “These types of studies will help superintendents, legislators and physical education teachers to come up with the best methods and programs to implement in our schools.”

Stone, who has taught at Ozarks since 2008, said the lack of physical activity in young children can lead to numerous health programs later when they are adults.

“We know that children who are not physically active become adults who are not physically active,” Stone said. “And, there is a direct correlation between low activity levels among adults and such health issues as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. If we can get kids active now, there’s a much better chance they will remain active their entire lives.”

Improving the fitness levels of school-aged children is something that can be accomplished through these types of research and studies, Stone believes.

“Deep down children want to move and they want to be active because children by nature have a lot of built-up energy,” he said. “They just need opportunities to become active and it’s our job as educators to give them those opportunities and to develop programs that maximize the benefits of physical activity.”

The Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas awarded a total of $1,723,343 in grants to 23 health improvement programs in Arkansas to address such issues as obesity, diabetes and healthy lifestyles choices.  

“We are thankful for this opportunity to partner with the Blue & You Foundation to explore was of effectively combating childhood obesity and encouraging physical activity and fitness among the children of Arkansas,” said U of O Executive Vice President Steve Edmisten. “I have no doubt that this partnership between the state’s education and health care sectors will bring great benefits to Arkansas’ children.”