The Effects of a Goal Setting Intervention on Aerobic Fitness in Middle School Students

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Samantha M. McDonald University of South Carolina

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Stewart G. Trost Queensland University of Technology

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This study evaluated the effects of a goal setting intervention on aerobic fitness (AF) in 6th to 8th grade students.


Students at the intervention school received a lesson on SMART goal setting. Students in the comparison school served as a measurement-only group. AF was assessed via the PACER multistage shuttle run test pre and post intervention. Between-group differences for change in AF were assessed using a RM ANCOVA.


A significant group by time interaction was observed for PACER performance, F(1,263) = 39.9, p < .0001. Intervention students increased PACER performance from 40.6 to 45.9 laps, while comparison students exhibited a decline from 30.2 to 23.4 laps. Intervention students were 10 times as likely as those in the comparison school to maintain Healthy Fitness Zone status or progress from Needs Improvement Zone to Healthy Fitness Zone.


Educating middle school students about SMART goal setting may be an effective strategy for improving aerobic fitness.

McDonald is with the Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. Trost is with the Institute of Health and Medical Innovation, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.

Address author correspondence to Samantha McDonald at
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