Purpose: To test the effects of a community-based physical activity intervention designed to increase physical activity and to conduct an extensive process evaluation of the intervention.
Setting: Two rural communities in South Carolina. One community received the intervention, and the other served as the comparison.
Subjects: Public school students who were in fifth grade at the start of the study (558 at baseline) were eligible to participate. A total of 436 students participated over the course of the study.
Intervention: The intervention included after-school and summer physical activity programs and home, school, and community components designed to increase physical activity in youth. The intervention took place over an 18-month period.
Measures: Students reported after-school physical activity at three data collection points (prior to, during, and following the intervention) using the Previous Day Physical Activity Recall (PDPAR). They also completed a questionnaire designed to measure hypothesized psychosocial and environmental determinants of physical activity behavior. The process evaluation used meeting records, documentation of program activities, interviews, focus groups, and heart rate monitoring to evaluate the planning and implementation of the intervention.
Results: There were no significant differences in the physical activity variables and few significant differences in the psychosocial variables between the intervention and comparison groups. The process evaluation indicated that the after-school and summer physical activity component of the intervention was implemented as planned, but because of resource and time limitations, the home, school, and community components were not implemented as planned.
Conclusions: The intervention did not have a significant effect on physical activity in the target population of children in the intervention community. This outcome is similar to that reported in other studies of community-based physical activity intervention.