Physical benefits of expanded physical education in primary school: findings from a 3-year intervention study in Sweden

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2008 Feb;18(1):102-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2007.00636.x. Epub 2007 May 9.


The aim of this study was to assess whether a school-based program with expanded physical education lessons was effective in increasing children's physical capacity and in preventing excessive weight gain in children. The study performed in 2000-2003 comprised 132 children, 73 boys and 59 girls at baseline 6-9 years and in follow-up 9-12 years, attending two different schools with a similar size, appearance and structure in a rural area. The norm school (N-school) followed the stipulated curricular time, one to two physical education lessons a week, while the intervention school (I-school) increased it to four lessons. More positive changes in physical index (the sum of the age-standardized results in 11 physical tests) were found among children in the I-school than in the N-school. The number of children who increased body mass index (BMI) increased in both schools, but a lower increase in BMI could be seen in the I-school. Expanded physical education lessons could increase physical status among both overweight and normal-weight children, in particular aerobic fitness. The weekly dose of physical activity must be higher than 40 min a day and must start earlier in children's life to be more effective in combating BMI increase.

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Program Development*
  • School Health Services*
  • Schools*
  • Sweden
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Gain*