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Contribution of School Programmes to Physical Activity Levels and Attitudes in Children and Adults

Abstract

Although children and youth currently form the most active segments of the population in developed societies, there is a marked trend toward an increase in sedentary lifestyle among school-age children. The purpose of this review is to analyse the effects of school physical education (PE) programmes on: (i) the physical activity (PA) levels of participants as children and adults; and (ii) attitudes toward PE and PA in the same groups. Based on the literature analysed, it can be suggested that a sufficient quantity of a quality PE programme can contribute significantly to the overall amount of moderate-to-intense PA of the school-age child. Schools also have the potential to influence the habitual PA of children by encouraging increased participation in extracurricular sports activities, by favouring active commuting to school and by providing exercise equipment and supervision for youth in their neighbourhoods. Most young children have a very positive attitude towards PE. However, as they grow older, their perception of PE as a positive experience seems to become more ambiguous. From the few studies available, it seems likely that quality PE programmes help to maintain initial positive perceptions. Future research should address factors influencing the change of perceptions as a child matures. In addition to offering a quality PE programme, schools should ensure that the total weekly amount of PE is sufficient not only to maintain but also to enhance a child’s physical fitness. More research is needed to determine the ability of school PE programmes to influence PA behaviour in adult life and to evaluate strategies that will make optimal use of the curricular time allocated to PE.

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No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this review. The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review.

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Trudeau, F., Shephard, R.J. Contribution of School Programmes to Physical Activity Levels and Attitudes in Children and Adults. Sports Med 35, 89–105 (2005). https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200535020-00001

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Keywords

  • Physical Activity
  • Sedentary Behaviour
  • Physical Activity Level
  • Physical Education
  • Habitual Physical Activity