Evaluation of the use of Concept2 Rowing Ergometers in Schools Hayley Musson, John Morris and Mary Nevill Institute of Youth Sport, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, U.K.
Effects of short-term rowing ergometer training upon the blood pressure and metabolic parameters of normal and centrally obese 12-13 year old boys and girls John Morris1, John Cruickshank, Alex Skelton2, Alan Nevill3, and Mary Nevill1 1Institute of Youth Sport, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, U.K. 2Concept2 Ltd., Vermont House, Nottingham South and Wilford Industrial Estate, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG11 7HQ. 3School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, WV1 1LY.
Introduction Concept2 have introduced an indoor rowing programme for primary and secondary age pupils with the purpose of: • Promoting physical activity • Improving fitness • Encouraging children to participate in sport The programme includes: • The provision of rowing ergometers to schools • Provision of appropriate training (including resources) for staff in safe indoor rowing techniques and exercise programmes
Methods • Staff survey to schools who were provided with, or had purchased, ergometers from Concept2 • Pupil survey (10 pupils) to the same schools (all primary schools, all primary/secondary schools and 50% of secondary schools) • Focus groups with pupils and interviews with staff in 3 secondary schools (6 focus groups, 36 young people)
Staff survey 54 schools returned a staff survey: • 89% of staff indicated that rowing ergometers were used primarily in curriculum PE time • 82% of staff reported that rowing ergometers were used in extra-curricular time • 92% of staff reported that the programme had helped to promote physical activity in schools • 91% of staff reported that the programme had improved pupil fitness • 87% of staff reported that the programme had helped to engage those not currently active in PE and improve confidence in undertaking sport and physical activity generally • 0% of staff reported an injury that required medical attention
Primary pupil survey 154 primary pupils (54% female) from 15 schools responded: • 76% of pupils had used the ergometers as an extra-curricular activity • 64% of pupils had used the ergometers in school PE and 76% of pupils found this ‘very enjoyable’ • 91% of pupils gave reasons for liking indoor rowing that it made them fit and healthy and that rowing was fun • Girls in particular liked rowing because ‘I can do it with my friends’ (84% of girls vs 71% of boys) • Boys in particular liked rowing because ‘I can do competitions’ (75% of boys vs 43% of girls) • 49% of pupils felt physical activity had increased • Incidence of injury was very low and as reported by staff
Secondary pupil survey 82 secondary pupils (44% female) from 12 schools responded: • 91% of pupils had used ergometers in school PE and 69% of pupils found this ‘enjoyable’ or ‘very enjoyable’ • 57% of pupils had used ergometers as an extra-curricular activity (rowing club 60%, fitness training 58%) • ~80% of all sessions lasted less than 40 minutes • 86% of males and 83% of females gave reasons for liking indoor rowing that it made them fit and healthy • Girls liked rowing because ‘I am good at rowing’ (50% of girls vs 37% of boys) • Young people liked rowing because ‘It’s challenging’ (61% of boys vs 50% of girls) • 49% of pupils felt that physical activity had increased • Incidence of injury was very low and as reported by staff
Focus group discussions • ‘I can assess myself to see how fast and long I can go’ Male pupil • ‘You can set yourself challenges, say, if you get a good time one week you can add to it the next week and make it better…’ Male pupil • ‘Your friends encourage you more when you are rowing. They encourage you to go faster. In other sports it can just make you worse if your friends are watching and you are not very good, which doesn’t really make it fun and then you don’t want to do it’ Female pupil • ‘It’s safe. You don’t get tripped over or pushed anything like you do in other sports’ Female pupil
Focus group discussions • ‘I think my fitness has improved, because at the beginning I couldn’t go that long on the machine, but now I can go longer’ Female pupil • ‘It enables you to have a good workout and build up your stamina and strength and things like that…’ Male pupil • ‘Towards the end of this year I’ve grown out of asthma and I think that’s because of rowing’ Female pupil • ‘You can do your own thing’ Female pupil
Teacher interviews • Training and resources had increased teachers’ enthusiasm for rowing and improved confidence to deliver indoor rowing activities to pupils • ‘Non-sporty’ children were keen to take part: ‘they were all chatting about it (indoor rowing), were keen to take part and really got into it and really enjoyed it. It didn’t deter them as it was at the right level.’ Male teacher • ‘It’s also good for some of the larger kids. It isn’t as uncomfortable for them as other sports and they tend to find they are very good at rowing as it is a non-weight bearing for of activity’ Male teacher
Conclusions The Concept2 rowing ergometer programme: • was very positively received as an enjoyable, safe and fun activity by staff and pupils in primary and secondary schools • had contributed to increasing physical activity • had contributed to increasing confidence in undertaking sport and physical activity in those disaffected from PE
Introduction – scientific study • In Westernised countries the incidence of obesity has become a major public health concern and the increasing numbers of obese individuals also includes children (A Report from the Chief Medical Officer, 2004). • Long-term follow-up of children with central obesity indicates that high blood pressure and metabolic abnormalities track into adulthood (Srinivasan et al., 2006) resulting in premature cardiovascular deaths (Baker et al., 2007).
Aim of the Study • To examine the effect of rowing ergometer training on performance and metabolic variables in adolescents • Rowing ergometer exercise may prove attractive to this group in that it is an indoor activity which can be undertaken in a private environment • The activity is non-weight bearing in nature, which may appeal to difficult-to-reach groups, such as adolescents with low activity levels and overweight young people
Overview: Study Design • 44 secondary schools, in an English city, contacted • 7 schools agreed to participate • Year 8 pupils randomly allocated to a CONTROL or TRAINING group • completed a series of testing procedures prior to and following a six week training programme, or after following their normal activity for 6 weeks
Overview: Study Design • A maximal 3 min rowing ergometer test • A sub-maximal test • Fasted blood samples • Blood Pressure • Anthropometric measures • TRAINING = Warm-up activities and 2 x 3 min of high intensity rowing twice per week in PE lessons
Results - Distance rowed in 3 min by waist centile
Results - Sub-maximal heart rate response
Results - Sub-maximal heart rate Response by waist centile
Results - Resting systolic blood pressure
Results - Resting systolic blood Pressure by waist centile
Results - High sensitivity C-reactive Protein by waist centile
Results - Metabolic responses • Training DID NOT influence • Total cholesterol concentrations • HDL-cholesterol concentrations • Triacylglycerol concentrations
Discussion • 4 x 3 min of high intensity exercise on a rowing ergometer, repeated for 6 weeks: decreased resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure; improved performance on a maximal test; and reduced heart rate and perceived effort in 12-13 year olds. • Adaptations to training were similar in a sub-group of overweight and centrally obese adolescents, and in boys and girls, and the training proved attractive to these groups of young people.
Discussion • Thus rowing ergometer training may be a useful addition to the range of activities which can potentially contribute to enhanced health in adolescents.
Acknowledgements • Vikki Leslie and Adora Yau in particular for their help with data collection. • This work was funded by Concept2 Ltd., Vermont House, Nottingham South and Wilford Industrial Estate, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG11 7HQ.