Findings From the EASY Minds Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial: Evaluation of a Physical Activity Integration Program for Mathematics in Primary Schools

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

To evaluate the impact of a primary school-based physical activity (PA) integration program delivered by teachers on objectively measured PA and key educational outcomes.

Methods:

Ten classes from 8 Australian public schools were randomly allocated to treatment conditions. Teachers from the intervention group were taught to embed movement-based learning in their students’ (n = 142) daily mathematics program in 3 lessons per week for 6 weeks. The control group (n = 98) continued its regular mathematics program. The primary outcome was accelerometer-determined PA across the school day. Linear mixed models were used to analyze treatment effects.

Results:

Significant intervention effects were found for PA across the school day (adjusted mean difference 103 counts per minute [CPM], 95% confidence interval [CI], 36.5–169.7, P = .008). Intervention effects were also found for PA (168 CPM, 95% CI, 90.1–247.4, P = .008) and moderate-to-vigorous PA (2.6%, 95% CI, 0.9–4.4, P = .009) in mathematics lessons, sedentary time across the school day (–3.5%, 95% CI, –7.0 to –0.13, P = .044) and during mathematics (–8.2%, CI, –13.0 to –2.0, P = .010) and on-task behavior (13.8%, 95% CI, 4.0–23.6, P = .011)—but not for mathematics performance or attitude.

Conclusion:

Integrating movement across the primary mathematics syllabus is feasible and efficacious.

The authors are with the Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition, School of Education, University of Newcastle, Callaghan Campus, Australia. Riley (Nicholas.Riley@newcastle.edu.au) is corresponding author.