Understanding the implementation of a daily physical activity program in elementary schools

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Journal/Book Title/Conference

2013 Canadian Society for Psychomotor Learning and Sport Psychology National Conference


Canadian Society for Psychomotor Learning and Sport Psychology


Kelowna, BC, Canada

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With more than one-quarter of Canadian children considered overweight or obese (Active Healthy Kids Canada, 2013), there is little debate that reducing childhood obesity should be prioritized. A commonly accepted lifestyle change is increasing physical activity levels. As children spend the majority of their waking hours in school (Hills et al., 2007), a frequently utilized method for increasing physical activity is daily, structured programs during classroom instructional times. Though these programs have had some success, there is resistance to their implementation as the programs are perceived to detract from regular teaching time and academic achievement (Vazou et al., 2012), despite the fact that improvements in children’s aerobic fitness appears to result in higher academic achievement and cognitive control (Chaddock et al., 2011). Our purpose was to understand the benefits and challenges of one such daily physical activity program (20 minutes per day) in Ontario schools from a third-party perspective. Participants (N = 9) were university students who completed internships at elementary schools. These university students entered their assigned schools and taught daily physical activity to the students. Participants were interviewed before and after their internships, and asked about their perspectives on the benefits and challenges of daily physical activity in schools. Through inductive coding, several main themes emerged from the interviews related to daily physical activity benefits (e.g., increased activity, academic improvement, developing social skills), barriers (e.g., space, time, weather), and facilitators/recommendations (e.g., teacher education, formal structure, prioritization). Herein, we present these main themes, and discuss their potential implications.

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