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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. Physical Education Enhancement

Approach. Expand and strengthen physical education (PE) efforts in school settings.

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Overview. Research indicates physical education enhancements that increase the time children are participating in PE and reduce the time they are sedentary can increase physical activity levels in elementary and middle school children. Enhancements can include lengthening PE lessons, adding in more PE classes to the schedule, or improving PE curricula or PE teacher training.1, 2

Evidence. Emerging. Initial research showed positive results for PE enhancements, 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 adolescent,; physical education teachers.

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 “Expand and strengthen physical education (PE) efforts in school settings,” 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 expanded physical education days during the school year.
  • Number of physical education teachers in the school districts that attended continuing education on physical education enhancements.

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

  • Percent of schools that expanded physical education days during the school year.
  • Percent of physical education teachers in the school districts that attended continuing education on physical education enhancements.

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

  • Number of schools that reported an increase in physical education class length or number of days in the school year.
  • Number of physical education teachers who attended continuing education on physical education enhancements that reported using them in their sessions with students.

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

  • Percent of schools who increased physical education class length or numbers of days in the school year that reported an increase in student time in physical activity.
  • Percent of physical education teachers who attended continuing education on physical activity enhancements that reported using them in their sessions with students.

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 Cronholm F, Rosengren BE, Karlsson C, Karlsson MK. A comparative study found that a seven-year school-based exercise programme increased physical activity levels in both sexes. Acta Paediatrica. 2018 Apr;107(4):701-707.

2 Palmer SE, Bycura DK, Warren M. A physical education intervention effects on correlates of physical activity and motivation. Health Promotion and Practice. 2018 May;19(3):455-464.

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.