The risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome in adults is influenced by the physical fitness levels during their teenage years. Promoting the habit of regular exercise to students who are lacking in physical activity and improving their fitness levels has become the essential goal for physical education strategies throughout the school system. The main purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of implementing exercise-reinforcement courses on students with poor fitness levels. 116 first year students whose fitness levels were in the bottom 20% of those screened were selected to participate in this study (58 males, 58 females; average age: 18.84±1.74 years). In addition to the regular physical education courses, these students were assigned one additional hour of an exercise reinforcement course per week for a total of eight weeks, as a part of the exercise-reinforcement mechanism. The pair t-test as used to compare the students' fitness 1evel s before and after the intervention. Results showed that for body composition, body mass index (BMI) was slightly increased (+0.6%, p＜.05) and the total body fat percentage was significantly decreased (-3.4%, p＜.01). In other areas, the fitness markers were also significantly increased: flexibility (+26.1%, p＜.01), hand-grip strength (+12.6%, p＜.01), leg pressing strength (+9.4%, p＜.01), sit-ups per minute(+5.3%, p＜.01) and cardiopulmonary endurance index(+6.3%, p＜.05). Students were divided into two study groups to receive aerobic or non-aerobic exercise reinforcement courses, and individual fitness levels before and after the courses were compared. It was found that aerobic exercise including kickboxing and spinning considerably improved the fitness markers (p＜.05) in all areas except BMI and leg pressing strength. Non-aerobic exercise such as strength training and yoga also considerably improved the fitness markers (p＜.05) in all areas except leg pressing strength. In conclusion, for university students with low fitness levels, it is recommended that in addition to their regular physical education courses, customized exercise-reinforcement courses should be arranged one hour a week for eight weeks to target on areas where they are lack of strength. Such short-term intervention would significantly improve most of their fitness markers. The exercise-reinforcement mechanism implemented during this study could serve as a reference for physical fitness improvement strategies proposed by colleges and universities.
- exercise-reinforcement courses
- fitness markers
- physical education courses