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.