Objective: To evaluate the effects of a comprehensive physical activity (PA) promotion programme in elementary schools on children's total PA levels, leisure-time PA, physical fitness and psychosocial correlates of PA.
Design: A pre-test-post-test design over two school years.
Setting and subjects: Sixteen elementary schools (764 children, mean age: 11.2 +/- 0.7 years) were randomly assigned to the intervention condition (n = 8) and the control condition (n = 8). The intervention included a health-related physical education programme, an extracurricular PA promotion programme and classroom-based PA education lessons. In the total sample, leisure-time PA, psychosocial correlates of PA and physical fitness were measured using a PA questionnaire and the Eurofit test battery. In a sub-sample, total PA levels were measured using an accelerometer.
Results: According to accelerometer data, children's moderate PA and moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) levels decreased less in the intervention schools than in the control schools (P < 0.01). The average time spent on MVPA decreased by 9 min per day in the intervention schools compared with 33 min per day in the control schools. Children in the intervention schools reported significantly more moderate PA in leisure time than the controls (P < 0.05). No overall improvement of physical fitness and no effects on the psychosocial correlates of PA were found.
Conclusions: The comprehensive PA promotion programme was successful in preventing a decline in children's total activity levels. Furthermore, the intervention increased children's PA engagement in leisure time. Therefore, implementation needs to be encouraged.