Promoting teacher adoption of physical activity breaks in the classroom: findings of the Central Texas CATCH Middle School Project

J Sch Health. 2014 Nov;84(11):722-30. doi: 10.1111/josh.12203.


Background: Research suggests that physical activity breaks (ABs) during class increase students' physical activity levels and provide an academic benefit. This study evaluates a 3-year intervention aimed at encouraging teacher AB use.

Methods: Thirty central Texas middle schools were assigned to 1 of 3 conditions: training-only (Basic), training plus facilitator support (Basic Plus), and training/facilitator support and a social marketing campaign (Basic Plus SM). Teachers completed surveys at end of years 2 (N = 1039) and 3 (N = 831) to assess exposure to program, self-efficacy, and frequency of AB use.

Results: At end of year 3, teachers in facilitator-supported conditions reported increased exposure, self-efficacy, and use compared to Basic condition. Only 43.2% of teachers in the Basic condition reported receiving training in ABs compared to 84.2% and 90.6% in the Basic Plus and Basic Plus SM conditions, respectively. Additionally, a greater percentage of teachers in the facilitator-support conditions reported conducting ABs weekly (Basic = 23.3%, Basic Plus = 34.4%, Basic Plus SM = 38.7%, at year 3; p < .001).

Conclusions: Despite perceived barriers, including fear that ABs will detract from instructional time, the intervention was successful in having a core group of teachers implement them weekly. More research is needed to increase the percentage of teachers implementing ABs regularly.

Keywords: CATCH; activity break; adolescent; obesity; physical activity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Exercise*
  • Faculty / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • School Health Services / organization & administration
  • School Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Schools
  • Self Efficacy
  • Social Marketing
  • Texas