Health Column

October 31, 1990 2 min read

Hypothesizing that getting in shape has emotional as well as physiological benefits, researchers are beginning a study that will test whether exercise improves the self-esteem of schoolchildren.

Wynn F. Updyke, an associate dean of health, physical education, and recreation at Indiana University at Bloomington, said that he and colleagues from at least two other universities will examine the next three years.

Other studies, he said, have examined the relationship between self-esteem and improving athletic skills, such as hitting a ball farther. But no study has looked at whether improving overall fitness--which is a matter of perseverance, and not athletic ability, he said--is related to self-esteem.

He and his colleagues will give fitness and self-esteem tests at least twice a year to students in grades 4 to 6 in Chicago, Detroit, and Indianapolis. Some of these children, he said, will be on a special exercise regimen.

Mr. Updyke, whose study is being funded by the Chrysler # Fund, said he hopes that the research findings “will be used as a model to make youngsters believe they are worthy people.”

Asthma deaths appear to be increasing, especially among poor, black, male children, a new study concludes.

The study, which appeared in the Oct. 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, said there was a general decline in asthma deaths between 1968 and the late 1970’s. But since that time, there has been “an alarming reversal.”

“It seems that rates are increasing faster among young children, aged 5 to 14 years, than among adolescents and young 9 adults, aged 15 to 34 years,” said the report, written by researchers from the National Center for Health Statistics and George Washington University in Washington.

In a related article appearing in the same issue, researchers from the same institutions found that hospitalizations due to asthma among children age 17 and younger increased 4.5 percent anually between 1979 and 1987.

The largest increase in hospitalization rates in young people was among black males, the article said.

Among children from birth through age 4, blacks had approximately 1.8 times the increase of whites, the study found.

The Council of Chief State School Officers has awarded grants of $10,000 to 12 state education departments to undertake activities designed to meet the health, as well as the educational needs, of students.

The grant is funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.


A version of this article appeared in the October 31, 1990 edition of Education Week as Health Column