THE EFFECT OF NATURE ACTIVITIES ON PHYSICAL FITNESS AND ACADEMIC SUCCESS IN CHILDREN
Keywords:Physical Fitness, Nature Activities, Academic Achievement, Children
By participating in various nature and sports activities in schools, children get rid of excess energy in their bodies and thus relax. In addition, they feel that they belong to a social group because they do activities with others and are more successful with the support they receive from their environment. All these ensure that children have high motivation. This situation increases their physical, social, and mental activities, gives them the habit of working systematically, increases their school discipline and academic success, and strengthens their mental aspects. Accordingly, the aim of this study is to investigate the effects of nature walks and nature-based educational games on some physical, physiological characteristics and school achievement of children aged 11-14 years. The participants of the study consisted of a total of 60 healthy volunteer students, 15 boys and 15 boys in the study group and 15 boys and 15 boys in the control group. The data obtained within the scope of the study consisted of physical measurements performed in November and January in the autumn term of the 2020-2021 academic year and academic achievement scores, including the results of the 1st and 2nd exams during the term. In addition to descriptive statistics, the Wilcoxon Signed-Ranks Test was used to determine the difference between pre-test and post-test measurements for the experimental and control groups. The pre-test and post-test measurement averages of the experimental group were, respectively, BMI (19.46 and 19.88 kg/m2 ), two leg flexibility (25.05 and 26.07 cm), push-ups (10.79 and 12.07), sit-ups (45.90 and 57.90), 10 m sprint (2.44 and 2.37 s), 30 m sprint (5.94 and 5.82 s), anaerobic power (71,17 kgm/sec and 74,86 kgm/sec), VO2 max (21,79 ml/kg/min and 22,89 ml/kg/min), and grade point average (85,94 points and 84,24 points). A statistically significant (p<0.05) difference was found in push-ups, sit-ups, anaerobic power, VO2 max and grade point average pre-test and post-test values; no statistically significant difference was found in other parameters. In the control group, BMI (18.90 and 18.81 kg/m2 ), two leg flexibility (23.49 and 23.37 cm), push-ups (7.80 and 7.80), sit-ups (50.03 and 48.10), 10 m sprint (2.46 and 2.48 s), 30 m sprint (6,12 and 6,01 s), anaerobic power (66,16 kgm/sec and 69,02 kgm/sec), VO2 max (22,49 ml/kg/min and 22,20 ml/kg/min) and grade point average (80,87 points and 79,33 points). The study found a statistically significant (p<0.05) difference only in anaerobic power and grade point average pre-test and post-test values. This research will add to the scant body of knowledge regarding nature walks and nature-based educational activities that can contribute substantially to the health and physical characteristics of girls and boys aged 11 to 14 years.