Logo of amjphAmerican Journal of Public Health Web SiteAmerican Public Health Association Web SiteSubmissionsSubscriptionsAbout Us
Am J Public Health. 1997 August; 87(8): 1328–1334.
PMCID: PMC1381094

The effects of a 2-year physical education program (SPARK) on physical activity and fitness in elementary school students. Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids.


OBJECTIVES: This study evaluated a health-related physical education program for fourth- and fifth-grade students designed to increase physical activity during physical education classes and outside of school. METHODS: Seven schools were assigned to three conditions in a quasi-experimental design. Health-related physical education was taught by physical education specialists or trained classroom teachers. Students from these classes were compared with those in control classes. Analyses were conducted on 955 students with complete data. RESULTS: Students spent more minutes per week being physically active in specialist-led (40 min) and teacher-led (33 min) physical education classes than in control classes (18 min; P < .001). After 2 years, girls in the specialist-led condition were superior to girls in the control condition on abdominal strength and endurance (P < .001) and cardiorespiratory endurance (P < .001). There were no effects on physical activity outside of school. CONCLUSIONS: A health-related physical education curriculum can provide students with substantially more physical activity during physical education classes. Improved physical education classes can potentially benefit 97% of elementary school students.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (1.7M), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Sallis JF, McKenzie TL. Physical education's role in public health. Res Q Exerc Sport. 1991 Jun;62(2):124–137. [PubMed]
  • Simons-Morton BG, Taylor WC, Snider SA, Huang IW. The physical activity of fifth-grade students during physical education classes. Am J Public Health. 1993 Feb;83(2):262–264. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Simons-Morton BG, Taylor WC, Snider SA, Huang IW, Fulton JE. Observed levels of elementary and middle school children's physical activity during physical education classes. Prev Med. 1994 Jul;23(4):437–441. [PubMed]
  • Shephard RJ, Jéquier JC, Lavallée H, La Barre R, Rajic M. Habitual physical activity: effects of sex, milieu, season and required activity. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1980 Mar;20(1):55–66. [PubMed]
  • Simons-Morton BG, Parcel GS, Baranowski T, Forthofer R, O'Hara NM. Promoting physical activity and a healthful diet among children: results of a school-based intervention study. Am J Public Health. 1991 Aug;81(8):986–991. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Luepker RV, Perry CL, McKinlay SM, Nader PR, Parcel GS, Stone EJ, Webber LS, Elder JP, Feldman HA, Johnson CC, et al. Outcomes of a field trial to improve children's dietary patterns and physical activity. The Child and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health. CATCH collaborative group. JAMA. 1996 Mar 13;275(10):768–776. [PubMed]
  • Duncan B, Boyce WT, Itami R, Puffenbarger N. A controlled trial of a physical fitness program for fifth grade students. J Sch Health. 1983 Oct;53(8):467–471. [PubMed]
  • Dwyer T, Coonan WE, Leitch DR, Hetzel BS, Baghurst RA. An investigation of the effects of daily physical activity on the health of primary school students in South Australia. Int J Epidemiol. 1983 Sep;12(3):308–313. [PubMed]
  • Kelder SH, Perry CL, Klepp KI. Community-wide youth exercise promotion: long-term outcomes of the Minnesota Heart Health Program and the Class of 1989 Study. J Sch Health. 1993 May;63(5):218–223. [PubMed]
  • Sallis JF, Condon SA, Goggin KJ, Roby JJ, Kolody B, Alcaraz JE. The development of self-administered physical activity surveys for 4th grade students. Res Q Exerc Sport. 1993 Mar;64(1):25–31. [PubMed]
  • Sallis JF, Buono MJ, Roby JJ, Carlson D, Nelson JA. The Caltrac accelerometer as a physical activity monitor for school-age children. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1990 Oct;22(5):698–703. [PubMed]
  • McKenzie TL, Sallis JF, Nader PR, Patterson TL, Elder JP, Berry CC, Rupp JW, Atkins CJ, Buono MJ, Nelson JA. BEACHES: an observational system for assessing children's eating and physical activity behaviors and associated events. J Appl Behav Anal. 1991 Spring;24(1):141–151. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Donner A, Birkett N, Buck C. Randomization by cluster. Sample size requirements and analysis. Am J Epidemiol. 1981 Dec;114(6):906–914. [PubMed]
  • Sallis JF, Simons-Morton BG, Stone EJ, Corbin CB, Epstein LH, Faucette N, Iannotti RJ, Killen JD, Klesges RC, Petray CK, et al. Determinants of physical activity and interventions in youth. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1992 Jun;24(6 Suppl):S248–S257. [PubMed]
  • Taggart AC, Taggart J, Siedentop D. Effects of a home-based activity program. A study with low fitness elementary school children. Behav Modif. 1986 Oct;10(4):487–507. [PubMed]
  • Vandongen R, Jenner DA, Thompson C, Taggart AC, Spickett EE, Burke V, Beilin LJ, Milligan RA, Dunbar DL. A controlled evaluation of a fitness and nutrition intervention program on cardiovascular health in 10- to 12-year-old children. Prev Med. 1995 Jan;24(1):9–22. [PubMed]

Articles from American Journal of Public Health are provided here courtesy of American Public Health Association


Save items

Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • Cited in Books
    Cited in Books
    NCBI Bookshelf books that cite the current articles.
  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...