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Health Promot Int. 2010 Mar;25(1):63-72. doi: 10.1093/heapro/dap040. Epub 2009 Nov 2.

Local school policies increase physical activity in Norwegian secondary schools.

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Research Centre for Health Promotion, Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.


The implementation of school policies to support the adoption of physical activity is one of the main strategies recommended to increase physical activity levels among this age group. However, documentation of the effect of such policies is so far limited. The purpose of this study was to explore policy-related practices to support physical activity in Norwegian secondary schools and their association with recess physical activity. Emphasis was given to examine the association between policies and physical activity, over and beyond, individual level interests and environmental factors and to examine cross-level interaction effects. This cross-sectional study was based on a nationally representative sample of Norwegian secondary schools and grade 8 students who participated in the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) 2005/06 study. The final sample comprised 68 schools and 1347 students. Data were collected through questionnaires. The results showed that schools with a written policy for physical activity and schools offering organized non-curricular physical activity several times a week had a higher proportion of students reporting daily participation in recess physical activity. Multilevel logistic regression analysis demonstrated a cross-level main effect of the policy index after controlling for sex, socio-economic status, individual-level interests and the physical environment. A significant contribution of adding the policy index to the prediction of recess physical activity above that provided by the individual-level interests and the physical environment was demonstrated. The results are encouraging and give scientific support to policy documents recommending the implementation of school policies to increase physical activity.

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