School physical education: effect of the Child and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health

Prev Med. 1996 Jul-Aug;25(4):423-31. doi: 10.1006/pmed.1996.0074.


Background: Physical inactivity is a risk behavior for cardiovascular and other diseases. Schools can promote public health objectives by increasing physical activity among youth.

Methods: The Child and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health (CATCH) was a multicenter, randomized trial to test the effectiveness of a cardiovascular health promotion program in 96 public schools in four states. A major component of CATCH was an innovative, health-related physical education (P+) program. For 2.5 years, randomly assigned schools received a standardized PE intervention, including curriculum, staff development, and follow-up.

Results: Systematic analysis of 2,096 PE lessons indicated students engaged in more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in intervention than in control schools (P = 0.002). MVPA during lessons in intervention schools increased from 37.4% at baseline to 51.9%, thereby meeting the established Year 2000 objective of 50%. Intervention children reported 12 more min of daily vigorous physical activity (P = 0.003) and ran 18.6 yards more than control children on a 9-min run test of fitness (P = 0.21).

Conclusions: The implementation of a standardized curriculum and staff development program increased children's MVPA in existing school PE classes in four geographic and ethnically diverse communities. CATCH PE provides a tested model for improving physical education in American schools.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Child
  • Curriculum
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Education and Training / organization & administration*
  • Program Development
  • Program Evaluation
  • School Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Time Factors
  • United States