The Impact of Running a mile-a-day in School on Attitudes to Physical Activity

Potter, J. A., Gault, M. L. and Lauder, M. A. (2018) The Impact of Running a mile-a-day in School on Attitudes to Physical Activity. In: European Congress on Obesity, 23-26 May 2018, Vienna, Austria. (Unpublished)

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Introduction: Physical inactivity and sedentary behaviours in children are thought to be key contributors to obesity (Must & Tybor, 2005; Int J Obesity, 29(2):84-86). Also, more recently there is evidence to suggest positive associations among physical activity, fitness, cognition, and academic achievement (Donnely et al., 2016; Med Sci Sports Exer, 48(6):1197-1222).The mile-a-day initiative has been introduced into UK primary schools since it was first trialled in Scotland in response to rising obesity and declining fitness levels in 2012. There have been a number of anecdotal reports of positive outcomes but there is a lack of scientifically gathered evidence base. The aim of this research is to explore the impact of running a mile-a-day on attitudes towards physical activity and education.

Methods: This paper reports on the attitudes of year 5 pupils (age 9-10 years) in two primary schools: one in which the pupils were running a mile-a-day as well as their usual in school activities and the second school, a control, matched for age and a nearby location (3.5km). Data were collected from 9 boys and 11 girls from each school in January and July 2017 using the SPARK student survey (Sallis et al. (1993) Res Q Exerc Sport, 64, 25-31) and body composition as measured by BMI (kg/m2). Each class teacher also participated in semi-structured interviews considering the children’s engagement and achievement in physical activity in school.

Results: Findings indicate that although there were no differences in body composition between groups there were positive changes towards attitudes to physical education (PE) and other physical activities. With boys in the mile-a-day school reporting more positive feelings towards PE in July than January while the opposite was true in the control school F(1,16)=0.694,p=0.024. The girls in the intervention school revealed an improved attitude to running activities, while their control counterparts dropped F (1,20) =4.246, p=0.05. Following 6 months of running a mile-a-day the boys attitude to undertaking activities that made them tired and sweat were more positive, while those in the control school maintained a dislike of the idea F(1,16)=4.985, p=0.04. Interestingly the reverse was true in the girls F(1,20)0.458, p=0.05) suggesting that they had been put off the idea of intense activity during the intervention. Semi-structured interviews with the class teachers revealed an increased confidence in undertaking physical activity for the intervention pupils, but a fatigue with the repetitive of the nature of the activity.

Conclusion: It appears as though 6 months of daily running can have a positive effect on attitudes towards PE and physical activity in boys and girls however, there is a need to be conscious of not turning pupils against certain type of activities by too much repetition.

Publication Type: Conference or Workshop Items (Poster)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV201 Physical education and training
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Divisions: Research Entities > CCASES
Event Title: European Congress on Obesity
Event Location: Vienna, Austria
Event Dates: 23-26 May 2018
Depositing User: Julia Potter
Date Deposited: 10 May 2019 11:45
Last Modified: 10 May 2019 11:45

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