While children’s and adolescents’ physical activity has decreased, also their physical ability to manage daily challenges has deteriorated. Due to this, in many cases school-age children’s physical functional capacity is not sufficient to deal with everyday situations.
The starting point for the national Move! system was to first determine what physical functional capacity is and for which everyday challenges pupils need physical functional capacity. Based on today’s pupils’ needs, a monitoring system was created to produce information about pupils’ functional capacity and to encourage pupils, parents and professionals to improve the situation.
Pupils’ ability to manage everyday tasks as a starting point
The starting point for the Move! system was to determine the physical challenges that pupils’ face in their everyday life. These aspects of the physical functional capacity comprise children’s daily physical tasks.
School-age children’s daily physical tasks are:
• Traveling to and from school using one's own muscle strength (walking or biking a minimum of 5 km)
• Lifting and carrying school bag and recreational equipment using one's own muscle strength
• Preventing sedentary lifestyle: maintaining the natural anatomic range of motion, especially in the upper body and hip area
• Moving in traffic: observing the environment and appropriately reacting to it
• Moving on different surfaces: maintaining balance even on slippery surfaces
• Moving in water (coordination and endurance of the limbs).
The functional capacity in the Move! system was defined according to the public health perspective as ”the body’s operational capacity to survive tasks requiring physical effort and to manage the goals set for it” (Rissanen 1999). More specifically physical functional capacity in the Move! system is defined according to fitness factors and basic motor skills.
Move! works best in basic education because it reaches the entire age group. Also, schools have a wide range of expertise at their disposal, such as the health care professionals of schools, teachers, professional in special educational support as well as physical education teachers. Physical education teachers carry out the physical functional capacity measurements during physical education lessons and collect and forward this information to be used as part of the expanded health checks.