Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Students say getting physical at an early age leads to success in adulthood

From left: Brett Schmidt, Mike Roselli and Derrick Hansvall
Monday, March 26, is the Fourth Annual Student Research Day, an opportunity for Douglas College students to share their research projects with their peers and the larger community. Doug caught up with a few of the participants to learn more about their projects.

We are

Derrick Hansvall, Mike Roselli and Brett Schmidt, fourth-year students in the Bachelor of Physical Education and Coaching program

Our project

Mike: Our study is to prove there's a correlation between children engaging in physical activity or sport, organized or unorganized, at an early age, and achieving a high socioeconomic status. In layman's terms: If kids play sports or participate in physical activity, they have a better chance of getting a higher education and doing better in life.

Our inspiration
Brett: We learn so much about child development in our program, so we want to make sure that we're the ones leading young children to a better future.

Mike: Thirty-three percent of children in this country are either overweight or obese. That number is appalling.

Derrick: As future physical educators, it's our goal to maximize physical activity across an individual's lifespan, so we wanted to find out if there was a correlation between physical activity during young adolescence and success in adulthood, and then promote that through a lifetime.

What we learned
Brett: People in this survey who participated in sports at an early age developed lifelong skills, such as work ethic and motivation, that led to higher education. And the attributes they got along with sport – as well as physical fitness and well-being in general – led them, in a lot of cases, to post-secondary education, which in a lot of cases led them to better jobs, better money and a higher socioeconomic status.

Our method
Mike: We did a retrospective survey of 200 people between the ages of 30 and 60, from doctors and lawyers right down to people in recovery programs for drug and alcohol addiction. It’s interesting: the people in recovery programs said if they had better access to sports as kids or young adults, their lives would have turned out differently.

Our research is important

Derrick: We've taken so many courses that talk about the importance of physical activity and organized sport at a young age. So if you can find an actual correlation between participation in physical activity and increased socioeconomic status, you’re giving young adolescents another reason to get involved at an early age and carry that throughout their lifetime.

Mike: I talked a professor from the University of Edinburgh, who held a seminar at New Westminster Secondary School for teachers in the district. He said that social media, as well as video games and all the electronic devices that are taking the attention of kids and making them sedentary, are going to lead to epidemic levels of obesity, heart disease, joint problems, Type 2 diabetes. So it’s up to us, as physical educators, to show not only other teachers, but the government and society in general, that we're lazy, we're sedentary and we need to keep moving.

The biggest takeaways

Brett: Even though we haven't tallied up all results yet, from just looking at the early results we can conclude there is a correlation between physical activity at a young age and achieving a higher socioeconomic status in adulthood.

Derrick: The skills you learn within sports, such as motivation, work ethic, and interpersonal and intra-personal skills, are skills you’ll use during your post-secondary education and in the workplace. These are very important skills when you’re looking to become successful in life.

Mike: Everybody wants that dream of doing well in life, getting an education and being well-off. We have to start young, and what we're doing right now for our kids is not enough. All kids want to run and play. They should have the self-esteem to do it.

Look for more interviews with student researchers this week on doug.