Individual approachin exercise for health

V. D. Sonkin, V. V. Zaytseva, O. V. Tiunova, M. V. Burchik, and D. A. Phylchenkov

(V. D. Sonkin, V. V. Zaytseva, O. V. Tiunova, M. V. Burchik, and D. Л. Phylchenkov. Individual approach in exercise for health. Plenum Press. Сборник трудов "Современные достижения в спортивной науке", -С.-П., New York, 1996, pp. 283-289) 


Specialists in physical education admit the necessity for health-promoting exercise. There are many studies devoted to the scientific investigation of it's feasibility. Most workers are still influenced by mean-population standards, and training methods take ac­count only of patients age and sex characteristics [1,2, 3]. This situation is caused by the present undeveloped theoretical foundations of individual approaches in health-care exer­cise [4]. The optimal degree of detailed necessary and sufficient to develop effective train­ing exercise programs taking account of patients' individual peculiarities is not yet known.

Studies by anthropologists of natural variability in human populations over the past 100 years revealed the main types of human morpho-functional constitution. ICrechmer's and Sheldon's classic works proved the existence of a close correlation between psychic and physical organization in humans [5, 6]. There are many studies concerning the peculi­arities of adaptational processes and the progress of disease in humans of different consti­tutional type [7, 8, 9]. We believe that an individual approach in physical education as well as in medicine and other spheres of human studies should take account of a wide complex of inherited properties which form a persons morpho-functional constitution.

Every person is unique but no one pedagog is capable of considering all the individ­ual's peculiarities; some are inherited and unchangeable and some can result from the per­son's life experience. Usually these properties are studied jointly. This is misleading because a mixed picture prevents the observation of useful changes resulting from adapta­tional processes. Moreover, attempts to change inherited human properties by means of physical exercise are not only hopeless but may even be harmful to health due to the dis­turbance of natural balance of the adaptative systems. However, we should take account of hereditary peculiarities while developing methods of pedagogic influence aimed to in­crease the organism's adaptive reserves and therefore improve health. Consequently, the primary problem of an individual approach is revealing a set of "basic" personal properties. i.e. identification of constitutional type, and only after this :an we solve the second problem —to choose optimal (and probably different for every constitutional type) ways of physical conditioning ami health improvement.


Before beginning the study we supposed that properties characterizing psycho­physical human conditions could be of two kinds:

•  conservative, hardly changed, probably - inherited;

* labile, adaptive, which can be changed in wide range.

Properties of the first group can only be used for constitutional type identification. Besides, we supposed that the difference between persons of various constitutional types with respect to basic properties should lead to differences in motor abilities' structure andin the dynamics of adaptive reorganization under standard training influence. This should be clarified in order to develop adequate regimens of health-caring physical activity.

Aim of the Study

To reveal a group of "basic" conservative properties from the number of soma­tometry and motoric indices and to investigate the difference in structure of physical fit­ness and dynamics of the adaptational processes in humans of different constitutional type under influence of regulated physical training.


Two experiments, differing in problems, methods and subjects were undertaken. The fust, was devoted ю the study of populational diversity in measured indices of organism's physical state. We used questionnaires to gather data. These are self-testing and were pub­lished (in 1991) by one popular Russian newspaper and we have 3888 responses from Russian central region inhabitants aged from 18 to 70. They included: (1) sex; (2) age; (3) body weight; (4) body height; (5, 6) systolic and diastolic blood pressure; (7, 8) heart rate at rest and during 3-d minute of recreation after standard physical exercise; (9) height o! standing vertical jump; (10) simple motor reaction time; (11) spinal column flexibility (standard sitting test); (12) maximal number of dynamic exercises during a standard time period lor muscles of upper and lower extremities and trunk.

Variability of the property value was determined by coefficient of variance (CV) equal to the ratio of the standard deviation (SD) to the mean of the group. Descriptive sta­tistical analysis was made using STATGRAF software.

The second experiment was with the participation of juniors—students of 1—2-coursc of Moscow Institute of Telecommunication (260 subjects of 18—20 years) and 66 16— 17-year old pupils of Moscow secondary schools. The investigation's aim was to evaluate differences in the dynamics of adaptational processes in representatives of differ­ent constitutional types as well as to reveal the most conservative and labile charac­teristics. Subjects were divided in three somatotype groups based on the expert evaluation of qualified anthropologists (members of Research Institute of Anthropology of Moscow Slate University). Each group was tested before and after the pedagogical experiment de­scribed below.

Testing included measurement of anthropometric and neurodynamc indices, heart :te at rest and during exercise and motor tests. Analysis included data only from those lbjeels who performed all the test complex.

a Anthropometry. To determine somaiotype the following standard characteristics were measured in all subjects: hotly weight, body height, chest, waist and shoulder (exerted and relaxed), thigh and calf circumferences, subscapular, triceps and ab­dominal skinfold thickness.

b. Neurodynamic characteristics were measured using a serial device PFK-01 with automated result registration. The subjects, who were isolated from disturbing noise and light, performed following tests:

  • Simple senso-motonc reaction: the time period from light stimulus on terminal display until the moment of button pressing, as well as number of mistakes made was recorded.
  • Complex senso-motonc reaction—(1) the time of recognition of colour (1 from 6) of light signal on terminal display (latent time period): (2) tunc between the beginning the action until it's end (finger touch off from a button and pressing another determined button); (3) total time of complex senso-motonc reaction; (4) number of mistakes.
  • Tepping-tesl - total number of local linger movements during I minute and dynamics by 15-s intervals.

с Measuring of heart rate at rest and during exercise was made using a sport-tester POLAR-2000. Blood pressure (systolic and diastolic) was measured at rest using the korotkov method.

Motor testing was performed in a sports hall or stadium (running 1000 m and 3000

I in the morning, under the supervision of a physician. Only healthy subjects with no

onic diseases were allowed to participate. Motor testing was carried on: during physi-

education lessons in the student's group. No more than 3 tests were made in one day,

s of a similar kind (for instance, running tests) were widely separated.

Statistical analysis was performed using calculation of mean and standard deviation well as variance. Student's two-tailed t-test for paired samples was used to analyze ining changes.


First of all we tried to evaluate the divergence of typologie variants in human popu-t;ons. That is win1 we made statistical analyses of mass testing results, from Russia's cen-region population. The results are presented in  Table 1 All the data ean be divided in two groups by the value of CV. Much less variable (cv (0.033...-0.188 in women and cv - 0.035...-0.191 in men) are the characteristics placed .first seven lines of the table. These are body dimension characteristics and functional ces of the cardio-vascular system. The second group of characteristics demonstrates much more variability (from 0.28 sl.26 in women and from 0.24 to 2.62 in men). Among them there are ordinary charac-itics of physical fitness: vertical ]ump height: simple motor reaction time; spine flexi-|y; upper extremity muscle strength; trunk muscle strength. These properties are known (be easily trained.

Next we analysed the dynamics of these physical state characteristics under the in­fluence of physical training. Table 2 includes test results demonstrated by young men of mesomorph (muscular) somatotype before (in September) and after (in May) physical training during a school year. The training was directed predominantly at the development? of total endurance and muscle strength. The set of tests included some neuro-motoric char­acteristics which were obtained using special psycho-physiologic devices (time of simpic motor reaction, time of complex senso-motonc reaction).

As can be seen from table 2, some characteristics should be considered conservative vertical jump height, speed of single movement, flexibility, blood pressure as well as mo Euro-molorie indices At the same time, strength characteristics are labile - similar to the evious experiment result. Therefore, not only physical development characteristics (i.e. somatotype) can be in-,iuded in the organism conservative signs but also neurodynamic characteristics which de-ermine the motor abilities of a person. At the same time many characteristics of motor itness are predominantly labile. This permits us to use them for evaluation of pedagogic afluence effectively.

Usually motor test results are improved by training, but their relationship, reflecting >e structure of motor fitness, is conservative enough and can be considered as a type of onstitutional peculiarities' manifestation.

Fig.l contains sun-ray diagrams showing the structure of motor fitness (by results of landard test set) in juniors of three different somatotypes (ectomorph (ECM), mesomorph MM) and endomorph (ENM)) before (A) and after (B) pedagogic experiment. During the speriment (of school-year duration) these three groups were trained by different pro-rams aimed to compensate the lag in motor abilities inherent to their constitutional type. :or instance, ECM show the least muscle strength so their experimental program con-isted of up to 40% of their time being devoted to strength development; ENM have sig-lificantly low endurance so their program consisted of predominant cyclic loads; MM emonstrate in whole the best motor abilities compared with other types, so they devel-ped all the motor components evenly.


Comparing these three diagrams we can see that the structure of motor fitness in hree somatotypes is quite different. Probably, it is connected with nervous regulation pe-uliarities of muscle activity and fiber composition which is known to be scarcely changed uring the adaptation process [10].

We believe it to be important that in spite of increased absolute motor fitness by raining the individuals structure remains almost unchanged. Consequently, the difference й motoric characteristic development between constitutional types depends predomi-tantly on hereditary characteristics while fitness level is secondary.

This fact is the basis of another useful effect. When humans of different constitu-onal types are trained in the same manner the results are quite different. This was proved у us in two experimental series (of a school-year duration) involving the participation of 

young men of 18—22 and  15—17 years of age. Some of the experimental results plot—are shown in Fig. 2.

Column height shows % increase in motor test results in young men of three totype groups during a year of training on the same program. The increases in differed tests are not similar and the greatest development can often be seen in physical ability given predominant constitutional type. For instance, endomorph persons are capable much less endurance than other people, but the increase in this ability for them is the On the contrary, their muscle strength is the best developed, and it's increase in er morphs is greatest.


The results of our study confirm our research hypothesis. As tables 1 and 2 shu some characteristics of physical development and neuromotorics arc less variable in population and as a rule arc lcasi changed in any physical training program in spite of emphasis. Evidently there are "basic" characteristics which form a common human tutional type. Other characteristics reflect adaptive reorganization and can be changed cording to physical training direction. At the same time the structure of motorics a to be strong enough.

We suppose that the difference between constitutional types consist not only in proportion but in skeletal muscle composition, and consequently, in organization of ergy and vegetative supplying of muscle activity. If this is true then we can understand easily why the same training influence leads to different results in humans of different constitutional type. But this fact has one more consequence: every type of morpho tional constitution needs its own regimen of health-caring physical exercise adequate his morpho-functional peculiarities. Therefore, the problem of individualization and training regimens in health-caring physical culture cannot be settled considering and age only but should be solved through an understanding of human constitutional ferities, adaptation potential and inclividual-typologic properties which determine health Mate and motor abilities.


The authors thank N. S. Smimova, T. A. Dunaevskaya and N. B. Selverova for their Participation in data collection and analysis; G. M. Maslova. I. A. Konnenko and T. V. Panasyuk for their help in discussion of results; D. A. Aisakov—for technical assistance, this research was supported, in part, by Grant of .I.Soros' International Foundation "Cul-

ire Initiative." reg.N 220 in the programm of Innovations in Humanitary Education in



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