A large proportion of children do not reach the recommended levels of physical activity for health. A quasiexperimental study with nonrandom assignment was performed to evaluate the effectiveness and feasibility of a school-based physical education intervention aimed at increasing the levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA).
Ten classes from 4 primary schools, including 241 children aged 8 to 10 years, were recruited. The experimental group (n = 97) received 4 additional sessions/week of 60 minutes of MVPA for 8 months. The control group (n = 135) continued their standard program (2 sessions of 50 minutes/week). Motor abilities (standing long jump, handgrip strength, Harre circuit, sit and reach), physical fitness (Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Level-1), anthropometric measures (body mass index, waist to height ratio), and self-efficacy (Perceived Physical Ability Scale for Children) were evaluated at baseline and after the intervention.
The experimental group significantly improved in the Harre circuit both in males (P < .001) and females (P < .01), whereas physical fitness test improved only in males (P < .001). Males in the experimental group improved the perception of self-efficacy in coordinative abilities (P = .017).
The proposed school-based MVPA program showed effectiveness and feasibility. The differences observed by gender highlight the need to use different strategies to increase the involvement of all the participants.
Dallolio, Sanna, and Leoni are with the Dept of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, Unit of Hygiene Public Health and Medical Statistics, and Ceciliani is with the Dept of Life Quality Studies, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy. Garulli is with the Dept of Public Health, Center of Sport Medicine, Bologna Local Health Authority, Bologna, Italy.