Effect of different types of fitness aerobics on physical and functional state of female students


Corresponding member of RAS, Professor, Dr.Sc.Agr., Dr.Sc.Ec., rector V.I. Trukhachev1
Ph.D., Associate Professor M.V. Osychenko1
Ph.D., Associate Professor V.S. Skripkin1
1Stavropol State Agrarian University, Stavropol


Keywords: water aerobics, students, physical development, functional state, physical fitness, dance aerobics, health.

Introduction. The research subject matter is relevant due to the social need for protecting and promoting youth health in the Russian Federation.

The health potential of the younger generation has a great impact on national development, economic strength, political stability and prosperity of the country. Poor health, insufficient physical development and low physical fitness level of young people are the pressing issues arousing concern in the modern-day Russia.

The current physical education system in the Russian higher education institutions is systematic in its structure and satisfies the national needs for education, training and development of a modern individual. It is based on the compulsory “Physical Education” course implemented according to the state educational program.

Health and education are interrelated and interdependent. Effective education is determined by good health of the students; otherwise, the entire educational process is pointless and incongruous, since its ultimate goal cannot be achieved completely.

However, the evident limitation of motor activities due to intense learning process results in considerable deterioration of students' health.

Academic activities in university may lead to psycho-emotional stress, exhaustion, long-term static muscle strain, which eventually result in musculoskeletal disorders (flatfoot, osteochondrosis, various types of scoliosis), neurological disorders and cardiovascular diseases (A.A. Stepanenko, 2014; E.V. Egorycheva, 2014; I.V. Chernysheva, 2014; A.V. Popova, 2014; A.V. Sharafeeva, 2014).

One of the promising solutions to the problem is introducing the sports activities, which are most preferable for students and would facilitate the reduction of adverse effects caused by the studies (O.V. Bulgakova, 2007; T.S. Ignatenko, 2009; E.A. Degtyarev, 2009; J.A. Vasil'kovskaya, 2009; et al.).

To our recognition, there is a considerable deficiency of academic hours allocated for “Physical Education”. Thus, extracurricular health and fitness program becomes increasingly relevant, since it increases motor activities of students, involves the young people into regular section sports classes, thereby forming systematic habit of exercising on a regular basis [3].

However, despite the leading physical education specialists (V.K. Bal'sevich, 2005; L.I. Lubysheva, 2005; M.Yu. Vilenskiy, 2004; V.I. Stolyarov, 2007; et al.) having accepted the project for educational system development, the organizational aspect of the physical education program lacks sufficiency.

Improvement of the physical education system requires introducing measures for modernizing and upgrading the quality of training and educational processes in sports sections, clubs, additional courses and other forms of extracurricular activities aimed at physical education of students. It will provide a practical solution for tackling the issue of involving and engaging students in physical activities. Along with this, formation of healthy lifestyle within the female student contingent is of specific concern. Over recent years, the issues of female sports and physical culture have been of great interest and were considered in numerous publications, on various topics (T.G. Polukhina, 2003; T.S. Lisitskaya, 2005; N.A. Kazakova, 2007; E.G. Saykina, 2009; O.P. Panfilov, 2010; V.V. Borisova, 2010).
The fitness program for women aims at preservation of health, work capacity, vital reproductive function, building a lean body and self-confidence.

Women are genetically predisposed to pursuing of beauty. For that reason, women choose specific sports and physical activities, which make their body slim and harmonically developed.

The current insight into the problem enables us to consider fitness as the most effective and productive type of health and wellness activities for female students during educational process. 

The discipline of physical education adopts the innovative tendencies of modern science and, thus, integrates the methods and approaches of other disciplines, namely the techniques of dance and music pedagogics, which resulted in new types of physical exercises performed to music.

Recently, researchers in the field of recreational physical education pay much attention to the issues of health and neuromuscular apparatus improvement among girls and women engaged in fitness groups.

We have undertaken a monitoring survey among women and found, that the most preferable types of fitness aerobics are land aerobics (dance aerobics, step, jazz, slide) [2] and water aerobics (hydro and water aerobics).

In this regard, we have discovered a certain contradiction. On the one hand, there is a great variety of modern fitness training methods, every of which seems favorable and effective to the trainees; on the other hand, modern young people feel the need for improving health, body shaping, which they face along with the pressure of everyday activities.

Water aerobics is a relatively new type of fitness activities which combines aerobic exercises performed in water to music.

Water provides twelve times the resistance of air, thus aquatic exercises are more intense than most land exercises. The correct water temperature is conducive to weight loss. Furthermore, aquatic exercises reduce stress on spine and weight-bearing joints due to eliminated effects of gravity. Besides, water contributes to endurance development and restores vitality.

A number of specialists have proved that water aerobics is one of the most effective ways of health improvement for women and girls.

We have studied the methodologies for water aerobics fitness which increase the basal metabolic rate in women with abdominal obesity; water aerobics techniques comprising aquatic exercises which allow regulating oxygen uptake during intensive workouts. 

However, in most universities swimming classes are not included in the compulsory course “Physical Education” after the transition to new economic policies.

Taking into account the above mentioned contradictions, we have formulated the research objective which can be described as the necessity for development and introduction of scientifically researched and evidence-based fitness programs designed for female students and aimed at body shaping, physique development, health and longevity enhancement.

Objective of the study was to study the impact of different types of water aerobics on physical development, functional state and work capacity of the first-year female students.

Materials and methods. The experimental study was carried out in order to analyze the effectiveness of organization and implementation of the extracurricular fitness program in university. The experiment was conducted in the sports and fitness complex of Stavropol State Agrarian University, the Stavropol swimming pool Yunost' from October 2013 through May 2014. 44 girls aged 17-18 years old without contraindications to fitness aerobics exercises took part in the experiment.

On the basis of the monitoring, the subjects were split into two groups: study group (SG) and reference group (RG), 22 people each.

SG was made of the girls engaged in aquatic aerobics classes; RG included the girls doing dance aerobics in a gym. The subjects had 60-minute classes three times a week.

Class structure was standard in both of the groups. The indicators of students’ physical and functional states were registered at the beginning and at the end of experiment.

Two different sets of exercises were used in the experiment:

– the first one comprised dance aerobics and was performed in a gym.

– the second set of exercises was performed in the water.

Initial anthropometric data were collected in the students of both of the groups: height (cm), weight (kg), circumference measurements (waist, shoulder, shin, hip).

Results of the Stange’s test (timed inspiratory capacity) and the Genche test (timed expiratory capacity) were used to determine the functional capabilities of the body; these indicators show the overall physical fitness of a person too. We assessed the lung function (vital lung capacity) using spirometer.

Physical work capacity was assessed using standard functional tests: the Cooper test (general endurance) – cycling maximum distance (in meters) in 12 minutes; the Ruffier-Dickson index – 30 squats in 45 seconds (heart rate recovery after exercise) – inverse relation of assessment: high index means bad performance. The state of the cardiovascular system was estimated by the coefficient of endurance (Kvas formula), which is an integral parameter comprising indices of heart rate, systolic and diastolic pressure (normal index is 16 points). The decreased index means intensification of the cardiovascular system, while the increased index suggests the cardiovascular system activity reduction.

Physical fitness was assessed according to the following test results: 100-meter dash, push-ups (number of reps), 30-second crunches (number of reps) [1], standing long jump (cm).

Results and discussion. No statistically significant difference was observed in physical and functional indices of female students in SG and RG at the beginning of the educational experiment.

Initial anthropometric data showed that body mass index in the students of both of the groups had no significant difference and corresponded to the average level of their development. The indices in SG and RG were as follows: height – 159.01±0.040 and 157.54±0.029 respectively; weight – 55.61±0.274 and 56.32±0.267; waist circumference – 74.83±0.223 and 75.44±0.267; hip circumference – 52.12±0.987 and 51.91±0.968; shin circumference – 30.24±0.83 and 28.92±0.16 correspondingly (р>0.05).

Initial indices in the Stange and Genche’s tests in both of the groups were equal to or below the average level: Stange’s test (sec) – 42.86±0.662 in SG versus 41.84±0.779 in RG; Genche test (sec) – 33.48±0.451 in SG versus 34.27±0.774 in RG (р>0.05).

The vital lung capacity indices in girls corresponded to the average level: 2.51±0.642 - in SG, 2.41±0.883 - in RG (р>0.05).

The study revealed that the initial indices of physical working capacity in the first-year female students were below the average level of their functional capabilities (Ruffier-Dickson index): 9.27±0.374 - in SG, 7.82±0.268 – in RG (р>0.05).

Initial Cooper test results were at the same level too, suggesting satisfactory physical working capacity indices of the students: 4373±8.894 – in SG, 4372±7.675 – in RG.

Initially, the Kvas indices exceeded the average performance indicator in both of the groups (22.18±0.211 – in SG; 22.34±0.248 – in RG), suggesting the cardiovascular system activity reduction.  

Initial physical fitness indices in both of the groups were roughly at the same level and almost corresponded to the norm. SG and RG test results were as follows: “100-meter dash” – 17.10± 0.336 and 17.33 ±0.234 respectively; “Push-ups”– 7.97± 0.778 and 8.05±0.849; “Standing long jump” –168.24±0.556 and 174.10±0.444; “Crunches” – 16.20± 0.111 and 17.14 ±0.672 correspondingly (р>0.05).

The experiment was conducted in October, 2014. 

Eight months after the beginning of the experiment, changes in the anthropometric data were more significant in SG, than in RG. In comparison with the initial data, the height index increased by 0.7% in SG and by 0.1% in RG (р>0.05), which proves the positive effect of aquatic exercises on the students' height indices. The weight index decreased by 6.9% in SG versus 4% in RG (р>0.05). Circumference measurements (waist, hip, shin) decreased too: waist circumference decreased by 3.9% in SG versus 2.4% in RG; hip circumference – by 4.2% in SG versus 1.7% in RG; shin circumference – 4.1% in SG versus 2.8% in RG (р>0.05), which shows the positive impact of water aerobics on body shaping of female students.

Positive changes were observed in the parameters indicating functional capabilities of the respiratory system of students. Thus, the final results of the Stange’s test and Genche test were considerably more significant in SG than RG: Stange’s test – 21.2% in SG versus 12.4% in RG; Genche test – 18 and 10.6% respectively (р>0.05). The vital lung capacity indices increased by 27% in SG versus 19.5% in RG (р>0.05), which also proves the positive impact of water aerobics on the respiratory system development. Ruffier-Dickson index changes were observed in both of the groups: it increased by 15.8% (р>0.05) in RG versus 22.5% (р>0.05) in SG.

The Cooper test results were similar. In SG (water aerobics) the indices increased significantly by 22% versus 18.1% in RG (dance aerobics) (p>0.05) as compared to the initial data.

In the course of the experiment, the Kvas indices approximated the physiological standard: being below the initial level by 26.5%, suggesting the benefits of water aerobics for the cardiovascular system. In RG the decline was less significant (by 18.9%).

As compared to the initial results, physical fitness indices were improved in both of the groups. The “100-meter dash” test results increased by 5.3% in SG and by 5% in RG (р>0.05). A significant increase was observed in the “Push-ups” test results: by 25.8% in SG and 19.5% in RG (p>0.05). The “Crunches” test indices increased significantly too: by 25.4% in SG and 24.5% in RG (р>0.05). The index growth in the “Standing long jump” test amounted to 11.8% and 9.7% in SG and RG respectively (р>0.05).

According to the monitoring results, only 16.3% of the female students in SG (water aerobics), have suffered from cold-related diseases and upper respiratory infection throughout the experiment versus 29.1% in RG (dance aerobics).

As seen from the findings, the offered fitness technologies (fitness aerobics) contribute to the qualitative and quantitative improvement of most of the studied physical fitness and working capacity rates.


The conducted study revealed the average and below average levels of physical and functional fitness of female students at the beginning of the experiment and made it possible to outline the stages of its improvement. 

The comparative study results testify to the fact that the extracurricular sport classes, specifically water aerobics, contribute to the qualitative and quantitative improvement of motor and functional potentials of the students.



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Corresponding author: osychenko.marina@yandex.ru