Disciplinary isolation has facilitated health education, public health, and physical education professionals to sometimes pursue common goals without the benefit of interdisciplinary collaboration and perspectives. Recognizing the potential benefits of interdisciplinary collaboration efforts to solve complex problems, faculty members at the University of West Florida developed an innovative doctoral program combining the disciplines of physical education, health education, and health promotion. Beginning with the salient common ground of issues related to engagement in physical activity, the program is designed to explore, compare, and contrast best practices in research and practice from each discipline. Benefits include synergistic solutions to common problems, graduates who transcend traditional professional silos to be more impactful, and the creation of innovative research endeavors. Graduates also find that they meet contemporary workforce needs outside of academia and are more marketable as faculty in kinesiology and health-related departments because of their rich, multidisciplinary knowledge base. Challenges to program implementation include prior student socialization from traditional studies in their disciplines and faculty working to move beyond their professional comfort zones to collaboratively mentor students in the program.
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John R. Todorovich, Daniel K. Drost, F. Stephen Bridges, and Christopher K. Wirth
Alexandra V. Carroll, Shelby J. Foote, Christopher K. Wirth, Sheri J. Brock, and Danielle D. Wadsworth
Physical fitness is associated with decreased weight in children, which helps improve youth obesity rates. Family programs can provide practical approaches to improving physical fitness for children. The purpose of this study was to assess the influence of a family-based fitness intervention on changes in body composition, fitness status, and perceptions of obese children. Families attended exercise and education sessions for 60–90 min once per week for 10 weeks. Participants consisted of 10 children who participated in semi-structured interviews, body composition, and fitness assessments at pre- and posttest. Following the intervention, results showed that children had a significant increase in sit-ups (p = .03, effect size = 0.79), lean mass (p < .001, Cohen’s d = 1.95), and bone mineral content (p < .001, Cohen’s d = 0.46). Using thematic analysis, four main themes emerged from the pre- and postintervention interviews: an increase in after-school and weekend intentional physical fitness, rules regarding sedentary behavior and screen time, more prevalent physical fitness reinforcements, and a shift in perception of exercise. Results from this study indicate a family-based intervention had an influence on children’s appreciation for and engagement in physical fitness, as well as healthy body composition and fitness outcomes.