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Douglas R. Anderson

I argue here that we, as a culture, are allowing physical play and playful movement to die. Following Friedrich Schiller, I argue for the importance of physical play for a liberated life. I call on those in the field of kinesiology to consider revising our cultural habits through the teaching of play not by way of abstract concepts but by way of playful experiences.

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David R. Bassett Jr.

The built environment has profound effects on physical activity and health. Many communities in the US are built around the automobile, with little consideration given to pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. These places tend to have higher rates of physical inactivity (defined as “no leisure time physical activity”) and higher rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. However, in some European countries and selected US cities, communities have been constructed in ways that encourage active modes of transportation. In these places, a large segment of the population meets physical activity guidelines, due in part to the activity they acquire in performing daily tasks. In addition to promoting active transportation, these environments promote recreational walking, jogging, and cycling. Kinesiologists can and should work with urban planners, transportation officials, developers, public health practitioners, and the general public to design cities in ways that enhance physical activity and health.

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Ronald F. Zernicke, Grant C. Goulet, Peter R. Cavanagh, Benno M. Nigg, James A. Ashton-Miller, Heather A. McKay, and Ton van den Bogert

As a field, biomechanics comprises research from the molecular and cellular levels, to tissues, to organs, to organisms and their movements. In the past 50 years, the impact of biomechanics research on society has been amplified dramatically. Here, we provide five brief summaries of exemplar biomechanics results that have had substantial impact on health and our society, namely 1) spaceflight and microgravitational effects on musculoskeletal health; 2) impact forces, soft tissue vibrations, and skeletal muscle tuning affecting human locomotion; 3) childbirth mechanics, injuries, and pelvic floor dysfunction; 4) prescriptive physical activity in childhood to enhance skeletal growth and development to prevent osteoporotic fractures in adulthood and aging; and 5) creative innovations in technology that have transformed the visual arts and entertainment.

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Richard P. Troiano

The following article was the Rainer and Julie Martens Invited Lecture given at the National Academy of Kinesiology, September 2011. The federal government has a demonstrated interest in the health benefits of physical activity. A major milestone in federal interest was the publication of the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Other federal efforts, such as the National Prevention Strategy and the Lets Move! initiative, seek to translate the science in the Guidelines into action at multiple levels of society. Federal interest is also demonstrated through the range of physical activity research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This paper describes research resources and examples of research funded by several NIH institutes with the intent to enhance the ability of members of the National Academy of Kinesiology to have a positive impact on society by advancing the science, as well as promoting and facilitating the many and diverse benefits of human movement.

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Bradley D. Hatfield

The relevance of kinesiology to the major issues of public health facing the nation is increasing with time. Of great importance is the area of exercise neuroscience in which remarkable developments have occurred in the past 35 years. The primary investigative efforts to date have been devoted to the impact of exercise on normal brain aging and recent efforts have also focused on the neurocognitive benefit to brain development in children. However, little work has been conducted in those with neurological disorders. The literature includes a number of animal studies that offer biological plausibility for the positive influence of exercise observed on brain structure and cognition in normal human subjects and, collectively, these studies provide a foundation on which to examine the role of exercise treatment in some of the major brain disorders that afflict adults and children today. These include the dementias, stroke, traumatic brain disorder (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and attentional deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A role for exercise in building resilience to such disorders is discussed here that may assist in reducing the financial and emotional burden of these affictions.

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Roberta Rikli

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Daniel J. Weeks

This paper, presented as the C. Lynn Vendien International Lecture given at the National Academy of Kinesiology, September 2011, provides context around the concept of accountability, the roles of the Academy, and knowledge translation as the basis for a framework for continued development of the National Academy of Kinesiology. The intent is to use the concepts presented in this paper as a catalyst for further discussion on opportunities for the Academy to serve the field of kinesiology as a knowledge broker and champion in addressing matters of important societal importance. Disability is used as an example of one such immediate opportunity.

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Laura Chaddock, Michelle W. Voss, and Arthur F. Kramer

Our increasingly inactive lifestyle is detrimental to physical and cognitive health. This review focuses on the beneficial relation of physical activity and aerobic fitness to the brain and cognitive health in a youth and elderly population to highlight the need to change this pattern. In children, increased physical activity and higher levels of aerobic fitness have been associated with superior academic achievement and cognitive processes. Differences in brain volumes and brain function of higher-fit and lower-fit peers are potential mechanisms underlying the performance differences in cognitive challenges. We hope that this research will encourage modifications in educational policies that will increase physical activity during the school day. In addition, older adults who participate in physical activity show higher performance on a variety of cognitive tasks, coupled with less risk of cognitive impairment. The cognitive enhancements are in part driven by less age-related brain tissue loss and increases in the efficiency of brain function. Given the increasing aging population and threat of dementia, research about the plasticity of the elderly active brain has important public health implications. Collectively, the data support that participation in physical activity could enhance daily functioning, learning, achievement, and brain health in children and the elderly.

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Noah Rosenblatt and Mark D. Grabiner

The expected rise in the number of older adults in the coming decades may exacerbate the social, medical and economic problems posed by falls and fall-related injuries. In part, the growing urgency for effective solutions refects the apparently constant average annual rate of falls by older adults over the past 30 years. Exercise by older adults can significantly reduce fall risk. However, the extent to which it does so raises the question as to whether its effectiveness can be increased. Results from recent studies support the view that avoiding a fall following a large postural disturbance is a complex motor skill that can be significantly improved by practice and thereby reducing fall risk. This reduction in fall risk appears to exceed that achieved by previously reported interventions. The principles on which the associated training protocol is based fall clearly within the discipline of kinesiology.

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Scott Kretchmar

Douglas Anderson's article about the demise of play in American culture challenges us at both personal and professional levels. It raises the possibility that play is on the wane for us personally, our own children, and our students. It suggests that we have turned our professional backs on play and allowed our play curricula to languish or disappear altogether. In this reaction paper, I affirm Anderson's thesis about the current status of play. I discuss play metaphorically as a dance between the player (the dancer) and the playground (the dancer's partner). I describe this as a fragile relationship, one that needs to be cultivated if it is to endure. I suggest that we kinesiologists have not been good supporters of the dance because of tacit or explicit commitments we have made about knowledge, value, and culture. I claim that unless and until we resolve these issues, we will continue to push physical play off the pedagogical stages at our colleges and universities.