An Intervention to Increase Students’ Physical Activity: A 2-Year Pilot Study

R. Glenn Weaver*, Collin A. Webster, Michael W. Beets, Keith Brazendale, Lauren Schisler, Mazen Aziz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Schools are called upon to provide children with 30 minutes/day of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Most school-based physical activity interventions have not targeted schools that serve children from low-income families. This study evaluated the effects of a pilot, competency-building professional development program on the school day MVPA and total activity (light- to vigorous-intensity activity) of students from schools that serve low-income families. Study design: Single group intervention with multiple follow-up repeated cross-sectional measures. Setting/participants: Students attending eight elementary schools in one low-income school district serving 3,719 students. Intervention: Participatory-based, experiential, competency-building professional development workshop for physical education and classroom teachers. Baseline was fall 2015, and the intervention was delivered during spring 2016 through spring 2017. Main outcome measures: Hip-placed accelerometers were used to derive the percentage of children accumulating 30 minutes of MVPA during the school day, minutes of MVPA, and time spent sedentary. Analyses were conducted during July 2017. Results: A total of 1,570 first- and fourth-grade students (49.8% girls, 87.0% African American, 88% free and reduced-price lunch) were measured across the project. Primary analyses indicated that the percentage of girls and boys meeting the 30-minutes/day guideline increased by 9.3% (95% CI=4.7%, 13.9%) and 10.4% (95% CI=5.5%, 15.3%), respectively. A corresponding increase of 1.7 (95% CI=0.5, 2.8) and 2.5 (95% CI=1.1, 3.8) MVPA minutes accumulated during the school day were observed for both girls and boys, respectively. Primary analyses indicated that statistically significant increases in MVPA and total activity for boys and girls were observed across the school day, during classroom time, and during physical education. Conclusions: Participatory-based, experiential, competency-building professional development is an effective strategy for increasing students’ MVPA and total activity in low-income schools. However, data from this study indicate that targeting settings outside of the school day may be more appropriate given that schools were providing more than two thirds of the recommended 30 minutes/day of MVPA prior to intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1-e10
JournalAmerican journal of preventive medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Journal of Preventive Medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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