Journal Article

The educational experiments of school health promotion for the youth in Japan: analysis of the ‘sport test’ over the past 34 years

Noi Shingo and Masaki Takeo

in Health Promotion International

Volume 17, issue 2, pages 147-160
Published in print June 2002 | ISSN: 0957-4824
Published online June 2002 | e-ISSN: 1460-2245 | DOI:
The educational experiments of school health promotion for the youth in Japan: analysis of the ‘sport test’ over the past 34 years

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The objective of this study was to analyze independently the results of a ‘sport test’ that had been conducted in Japanese schools for 34 years without interruption, and to examine how physical education in Japanese schools affects health promotion in youths and what problems remain to be solved. The source of materials for the present study were the Annual Reports on the Survey of Physical Fitness and Athletic Ability for the period 1965–1998, published by the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture. Means and standard deviations of total scores from physical fitness and athletic ability tests in 11-year-olds (6th graders in elementary school), 14-year-olds (3rd graders in junior high school) and 17-year-olds (3rd graders in senior high school) were analyzed. The results of this study suggest that the trends of changes in mean score and coefficient of variation (CV) for physical fitness and athletic ability in Japanese youths are associated with the outcome of physical training through physical education in school, as well as the effect of the media—mainly television and television games. (1) The increase in mean scores and the decrease in CV observed from 1964 to the first half of the 1970s were probably due to the positive influence of the Guideline for Teaching. This guideline emphasized a systematic approach to athletic techniques, together with active practice of physical fitness training in schools, under the directives of the Boards of Education in response to the social ‘Physical Fitness Campaign’ policy at that time. (2) The leveling off of mean scores and CVs observed from the early half of the 1970s to the later half of the 1980s might be a result of the invasion of television into Japanese family life. (3) The decrease in mean scores and increase in CV observed since the later half of the 1980s were assumed to be caused by the negative influence of a Guideline for Teaching characterized by the key words ‘Physical Education for More Pleasure’ and a steep increase in the number of television games. (4) In terms of methodology, analyzing not only the mean scores but also the CV probably provided a more accurate evaluation of the outcome of health promotion in youths. In conclusion, strategies for health promotion in youths, especially for proper nurturing of physical fitness and athletic ability, should include not only delivery of physical fitness training in schools, but also continuous monitoring of multiple indicators, and ensuring proper ‘Learning of the Body’. The latter should include providing learning opportunities centering on the ‘body’ (not the ‘body’ for the sake of labour or military manpower, but one's own ‘body’ per se); guiding young people to recognize the states of their own body and physical fitness, and to understand how they can be improved. To be effective in implementation, the need to increase the number of professional teachers in physical education should be examined. All possible opportunities should also be taken to inform youths of the negative effects of television and television games, and to encourage them to spend less time on these and more time being physically active from the moment they arise.

Keywords: educational experiments; physical fitness/athletic ability; school health promotion; youth

Journal Article.  7435 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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