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Strengthen the Evidence for Maternal and Child Health Programs

New: MCHbest strategies database for sample ESMs

Evidence Tools
MCHbest. NPM 8: Physical Activity

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Strategy. Extracurricular Activities for Physical Activity

Approach. Provide students with opportunities to participate in sports or other athletic activities before or after school.

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Overview. Research indicates that an intervention where students are offered opportunities to participate in sports or athletic activities after school increases time in physical activity for children and adolescents. Activities include sports such as soccer, tennis, basketball, volleyball, etc. at the beginner, intermediate or competitive levels. Before or after-school activities can also include dance, fitness breaks, and physically active games. 1, 2

Evidence. Emerging. Initial research showed positive results for sports or other physically active extracurricular strategies to increase physical activity in children and adolescents. Further research is needed to identify critical components and confirm effects. This strategy has been tested more than once and results trend positive overall. Access the peer-reviewed evidence through the MCH Digital Library. (Read more about understanding evidence ratings).

Target Audience. Schools: children and adolescents.

Outcome. Increase in overall physical activity in children and adolescents. For detailed outcomes related to each study supporting this strategy, click on the peer-reviewed evidence link above and read the “Intervention Results” for each study.

Examples from the Field. Access descriptions of ESMs that use this strategy directly or intervention components that aligns with this strategy. You can use these ESMs to see how other Title V agencies are addressing the NPM.

Sample ESMs. Using the approach “Provide students with opportunities to participate in sports or other athletic activities before or after school,” here are sample ESMs you can use to model for your own measures using the Results-Based Accountability framework (for suggestions on how to develop programs to support this strategy, see The Role of Title V in Adapting Strategies):

Quadrant 1:
Measuring Quantity of Effort
("What/how much did we do?")

  • Number of schools who implement extracurricular programs, like “Girls on the Move,” to provide opportunities for after-school physical activity.
  • Number of children participating in before or after school sports or physical activity programs during the school year.

Quadrant 2:
Measuring Quality of Effort
("How well did we do it?")

  • Percent of schools who implement extracurricular programs, like “Girls on the Move,” to provide opportunities for after-school physical activity.  
  • Percent of children participating in before- or after-school sports or physical activity programs during the school year.

Quadrant 3:
Measuring Quantity of Effect
("Is anyone better off?")

  • Number of schools reporting an increase in student participation in after-school sports or physical activity programs for high school students.
  • Number of children who complete a sports season or physical activity program in a school year.

Quadrant 4:
Measuring Quality of Effect
("How are they better off?")

  • Percent of schools reporting an increase in student participation in after-school sports or physical activity programs for high school students.
  • Percent of students reporting completing a sports season or physical activity program in a school year.

Note. ESMs become stronger as they move from measuring quantity to measuring quality (moving from Quadrants 1 and 3, respectively, to Quadrants 2 and 4) and from measuring effort to measuring effect (moving from Quadrants 1 and 2, respectively, to Quadrants 3 and 4).

Learn More. Read how to create stronger ESMs and how to measure ESM impact more meaningfully through Results-Based Accountability.


References:

1 Carlin A, Murphy MH, Nevill A, Gallagher AM. Effects of a peer-led Walking In Schools intervention (the WISH study) on physical activity levels of adolescent girls: A cluster randomised pilot study. Trials. 2018 Jan 11;19(1):31.

2 Robbins LB, Wen F, Ling J. Mediators of physical activity behavior change in the "Girls on the Move" intervention. Nursing Research. 2019 Jul/Aug;68(4):257-266.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number U02MC31613, MCH Advanced Education Policy, $3.5 M. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.