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Prev Med. 2003 Apr;36(4):493-501.

Can we skill and activate children through primary school physical education lessons? "Move it Groove it"--a collaborative health promotion intervention.

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  • 1Health Promotion Unit, Northern Rivers Area Health Service, Lismore, NSW, Australia.



Physical education (PE) lessons are an ideal setting to improve child fundamental movement skills (FMSs) and increase physical activity (PA) for optimal health. Despite this, few studies have assessed the potential to do both simultaneously. The "Move It Groove It" primary school intervention in New South Wales, Australia, had this opportunity.


A whole school approach to implementation included establishment of school project teams, a teacher "buddy" system, project Web site, teacher training workshops, and small grants for equipment. The quasi-experimental evaluation involved 1,045 year 3 and 4 children (aged 7 to 10 years) in nine intervention and nine control rural primary schools (53% boys/47% girls). It utilised pre- and postobservational surveys of (1) mastery or near mastery levels for each of eight FMSs, (2) proportion of PE lesson time spent in moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) and vigorous PA (VPA), and (3) teacher- and lesson-related contextual covariates. Data were analysed by hierarchical logistic multiple regression.


For FMSs, overall mastery or near mastery level at baseline was 47% ranging from 22.7% for the overarm throw among girls to 75.4% for the static balance among boys. The intervention delivered substantial improvements in every FMS for both genders ranging from 7.2% to 25.7% (13 of 16 comparisons were significant). For PA level, mean MVPA at baseline was 34.7%. Baseline MVPA for boys was 38.7% and for girls was 33.2%. The intervention was associated with a nonsignificant 4.5% increase in MVPA and a significant 3.0% increase in VPA. This translates to a gain of <1 minute of MVPA per average 21-minute lesson.


This is the first study to show that by modifying existing PE lessons, significant improvements in FMS mastery can be gained without adversely affecting children's MVPA and VPA. To increase PA levels, we recommend increasing the number of PE lessons per week.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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