Many students equated ‘being healthy’ with ‘being
fit’, and being fit with ‘looking good’.
• The majority of students at both year levels equated fitness
• Year 8 students offered more holistic, expanded understandings
than did Year 4 students, and were more aware of the consequences
of specific behaviours on health and fitness.
• Being healthy’ for the majority of students meant eating
‘right’, being clean, not smoking and not being overweight.
• Being ‘fit’ for the majority of students meant
being able to run, ‘not being fat’ and having a ‘better
• Some coherence between the imperatives of health and physical
education in the New Zealand Curriculum statement and students’
responses was evident. Many students, particularly at Year 8, mentioned
mental, social, spiritual and environmental constituents of ‘wellbeing’
together with physical elements of health.
Most students regarded health and fitness as states of being that
are dependent on ‘the individual’.
• Many students, especially at Year 8, drew links between
achieving health and being a ‘good’ and/or ‘moral’
person. They perceived an unfit person as one who is not healthy
and is therefore lazy and/or weak.
• Very few responses suggested that becoming healthy and/or
fit is pleasurable. Rather, students recited lists of what a person
should do to become healthy or fit, and frequently used the word
don’t in this regard, e.g., ‘Don’t eat fat’,
‘Don’t watch television’. Thus, many activities
that young people enjoy were those seen as ‘naughty’
in relation to fitness and health.