Research Article | Open Access
Andrzej Lewandowski, Jadwiga Sarwińska, Marcin Siedlaczek, Zuzanna Piekorz, "10-Year Longitudinal Changes in Fitness Parameters in Physiotherapy Students", BioMed Research International, vol. 2020, Article ID 7154797, 8 pages, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/7154797
10-Year Longitudinal Changes in Fitness Parameters in Physiotherapy Students
Introduction. The aim of this study is to examine changes in the chosen morphological characteristics, motor conditioning, and coordination skills in physiotherapy undergraduates at a medical university in Bydgoszcz in the first decade of the millennium. We assume prevalence of a secular trend in values of morphological characteristics; however, characteristics of motor skills, particularly fitness levels, will remain relatively unchanged. Materials and Methods. The study included young people studying physiotherapy at the medical university of Bydgoszcz 2001-2010. Basic morphological features, including waist and hip circumferences, were measured, and BMI and WHR were calculated. The Cooper test and marching over a distance of two kilometers were employed to determine endurance; right and left spinning coordination was assessed by Starosta test. Calculated Mollison indicators were used in the evaluation of dimorphic differences in subsequent observation time. Statistics. Data are presented as mean with the standard deviation. Groupwise comparison was performed with Student’s -test and linear relationships with Pearson’s . Linear covariance models (ANCOVA) were built as theoretical models. Statistical significance was set at . Based on the correlation between the data and the corresponding normal score used, the Shapiro-Wilk test is the best choice for testing the normality of data. Variables were excluded if they exceeded the tolerance level for multicollinearity. Analysis was performed with Statistica 10. Results. The study demonstrated a rising number of male students (from 13,3% to 39,2%, ; ) and a decrease in age of students overall but no significant changes (from to ; ; ) in their morphological characteristics and their dimorphic differences (average results for males: BMI, from to ; WHR index, from to ; average results for females: BMI, from to ; WHR index, from to ). An overall improvement in endurance was found; however, coordination, especially amongst women, had deteriorated (turn right, from to ; turn left, from to ). We observed multidirectional changes in the analyzed motor skills and most of them were statistically significant. Conclusions. Longitudinal study of physiotherapy students revealed no differences in morphological and dimorphic characteristics and multimodal changes in assessed motor skills, thus highlighting a need for further research into the identification of their causes. Moreover, a requirement for entry motor skills assessment and curriculum reorientation towards delivery of a broader scope of physical education was suggested.
Physiotherapy was recognized as an integral part of medicine during the postwar period. The continuous dynamic development of this field, particularly with regard to methods used and areas leading to professional fulfillment, is owed to its effectiveness. Physiotherapy degree courses were initially delivered by physical education colleges. Years later, following on an example set by the medical university in Bydgoszcz at the end of the 1990s, other medical colleges introduced the course as well. Nowadays, an increased popularity and appeal of physiotherapy as a career choice caused that degree courses are offered by many public and nonpublic universities, even those not specialized in health sciences. The above arguments and market mechanisms in the education field mean that despite expectations of high physical fitness level of the physiotherapist, most of universities do not use motor selection for studies [1, 2]. Thus, an increased number in undergraduates who do not pay attention to the level of their own physical fitness adequate to the profession is observed.
A gap in research on fitness levels in physiotherapy students does not allow for an adequate estimation of its level. Limited data and empiric experience indicate adverse effects on changes in fitness composition and level of performance in the work role, caused by lifestyle changes and secular trends in anthropometric parameters [3–5]. The available literature highlights that physiotherapy students have a similar or higher level of physical fitness compared to other students [6–8]. Our study demonstrates more advantageous fitness parameters in physiotherapy undergraduates [9–12] even though the majority of them take the course at universities other than physical education universities.
Physiotherapists are expected to employ high levels of physical activity; a similar degree of fitness and motor experiences allows for implementation of professional standards . This is the most probable reason for outlining endurance and motor coordination as key determinants in successful delivery of the work role [1, 2]. Their level is determined by many factors, both endogenous and exogenous as well as body structure [14–18]. Civilizational development shapes the socioenvironmental conditions in population and thus impacts their subsequent biological effects . Consequently, it causes changes in patients’ healthcare and education system for prospective employees. Thus, a long-term change in the biological value in physiotherapy students, measured by morphological characteristics and fitness and motor skill, can be assumed.
Considering the above and a growing number of physiotherapy students, it was imperative to assess their physical aptitude. Thus, the aim of this study is to examine changes in the chosen morphological characteristics, motor coordination, and conditioning skills in physiotherapy undergraduates at the medical university in Bydgoszcz in the first decade of the millennium. We assumed prevalence of a secular trend in the values of morphological characteristics and no major differences in motor skills, particularly conditioning. With extensive longitudinal study, an attempt to identify temporal changes in these parameters was made, which may have provided arguments for the introduction of changes in the curriculum and in entry requirements for physiotherapy degree courses.
2. Material and Method
The research included young people studying physiotherapy at the medical university of Bydgoszcz in 2001-2010. Data was collected during Exercise Science classes, initially taught in the third year and later delivered in the second year of a comprehensive five-year master courses and first year of full-time bachelor degree studies. In 2001-2007, third year students following the comprehensive master degree pathway were included; they had been required to pass a fitness test upon entry and in three consecutive years. In 2007-2009, second year bachelor degree students following a similar examination framework were analyzed. In 2009 and 2010, the subjects were first year undergraduates not requiring a fitness test for admission.
The research outcomes of the third-year master degree and second-year bachelor degree students examined in 2007 were considered collectively, similar to the results in first and second year undergraduates in 2009. During the research period, the curriculum underwent numerous modifications; however, the exercise and movement classes and teaching hours remained unchanged.
Thus, at the end of each academic year, body height and mass were measured as basic morphological features in addition to waist and hip circumferences. The BMI and WHR indexes were calculated separately for each participant . Endurance, as a part of gross motor skills, was measured by the Cooper test and a march over a distance of two kilometers; its levels are strongly correlated with VO2max. Starosta’s test was employed for the assessment of right and left spinning coordination [20–22].
Calculated Mollison indicators, commonly used in in different fields of physical anthropological studies, were used in the evaluation of dimorphic differences in assessed characteristics in consecutive observation years [23, 24]. All measurements were carried out by a specialist research team in the same conditions and in accordance with testing procedures. Anthropometric assessment and conditioning tests were performed once; the best two scores of the latter were recorded. Overall the results of 217 male and 538 female students were obtained which covered 95% of the researched population.
Data are presented as mean with the standard deviation. Groupwise comparison was performed with Student’s -test and linear relationships with Pearson’s . Linear covariance models (ANCOVA) were built as theoretical models. Statistical significance was set at . Based on the correlation between the data and the corresponding normal score used, the Shapiro-Wilk test is the best choice for testing the normality of data. Variables were excluded if they exceeded the tolerance level for multicollinearity. Analysis was performed with Statistica 10.
(%): numerical and percentage characteristics of the size of student groups surveyed; mean: average age of student groups surveyed; SD: standard deviation.
The research proved a substantial reduction in the female participation (; ) and a significant decrease in participants’ age at the time of research (; ). No meaningful correlation between age and gender in participants was noted (; ). Anthropometric characteristics of participants are shown in Tables 2 and 3. In both groups, the sizes of somatic features measured in individual years of observation were similar and their changes were multidirectional.
Body mass: arithmetic mean and standard deviation of body mass of examined student groups; body height: arithmetic mean and standard deviation of body height of examined student groups; BMI: arithmetic mean and standard deviation of the body mass index of the examined student groups.
Waist circumference: arithmetic mean and standard deviation of waist circumferences of the examined student groups; hip circumference: arithmetic mean and standard deviation of hip circumferences of examined student groups; WHR index: arithmetic mean and standard deviation of the waist-hip ratio of examined student groups.
Occurrence of significant changes in anthropometric characteristics in subsequent years was assessed. Due to aforementioned changes in the gender structure and statistical characteristics in participants’ age, these two parameters were also included in the ACNOVA covariance analysis.
The characteristics of the obtained covariance models are presented in Table 4.
: coefficient of regression between variables; SD: standard deviation; CI: confidence interval; : value used to determine statistical significance; : coefficient of determination.
Research demonstrates no significant effect of the test year on any of the analyzed anthropometric parameters. Older students are characterised by significantly higher values of body mass, BMI index, and waist circumference and substantially lower body height. All anthropometric parameters in women assumed significantly lower values.
The results of the fitness tests in the study participants are presented in Table 5. For both genders, the results of motor skills tests were different. Their changes in individual years of observation were clear and as in somatic features multidirectional.