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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

MCH Best Logo five children on bicycles

Strategy. Physically Active Classrooms

Approach. Incorporate physical activity in the lesson plan or include classroom energizers during academic lessons.

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Overview. Research indicates that physically active classrooms in the form of active breaks can be incorporated into a larger program to promote physical activity or healthy eating, and include physical education or recess enhancements. Physically active classroom interventions also include teacher training and professional development opportunities for school staff and faculty.1, 2

Evidence. Emerging. Initial research showed positive results for physically active classrooms, but further research is needed to 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 teachers.

Outcome. Increase in overall physical activity in children. 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 current 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 “Incorporate physical activity in the lesson plan or include classroom energizers during academic lessons,” 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 that sign on to the 3-4-50 community health improvement strategy, including a commitment to daily recess.
  • Number of teachers receiving training on physically active classrooms.

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

  • Percent of teachers receiving training on physically active classrooms.

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

  • Number of teachers who report increased knowledge of how to incorporate classroom energizers or moving activities into academic lessons.
  • Number of teachers who report engaging students in physical activity breaks and active transitions in the classroom.

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

  • Percent of teachers who report increased knowledge of how to incorporate classroom energizers or moving activities into academic lessons.
  • Percent of teachers who report engaging students in physical activity breaks and active transitions in the classroom.

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 Bartholomew JB, Jowers EM, Roberts G, Fall AM, Errisuriz VL, Vaughn S. Active learning increases children's physical activity across demographic subgroups. Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. 2018;3(1):1-9.

2 Vazou S, Saint-Maurice PF, Skrade M, Welk G. Effect of Integrated physical activities with mathematics on objectively assessed physical activity. Children (Basel). 2018;5(10):140.

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.