The effect of a curriculum-based physical activity intervention on accelerometer-assessed physical activity in schoolchildren: A non-randomised mixed methods controlled before-and-after study

Alison L. Innerd, Liane B. Azevedo, Alan M. Batterham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Classroom-based physical activity (PA) interventions offer the opportunity to increase PA without disrupting the curriculum. We aimed to explore the feasibility and potential effectiveness of a classroom-based intervention on moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) and total PA. The secondary aim was to assess the acceptability and sustainability of the intervention. In a mixed-methods, non-randomised, exploratory controlled before-and-after study, 152 children (10 ± 0.7 years) were recruited from five schools; two intervention (n = 72) and three control (n = 80) schools. School teachers delivered an 8-week classroom-based intervention, comprising of 10 minutes daily MVPA integrated into the curriculum. The control schools maintained their usual school routine. Mean daily MVPA (min), total PA (mean cpm), physical fitness, and health-related quality of life measurements were taken at baseline, end of intervention, and 4-weeks post-intervention (follow-up). Data were analysed using a constrained baseline longitudinal analysis model accounting for the hierarchical data structure. For the primary outcomes (MVPA and total PA) the posterior mean difference and 95% compatibility interval were derived using a semi-Bayesian approach with an explicit prior. The acceptability and sustainability of the intervention was explored via thematic content analysis of focus group discussions with teachers (n = 5) and children (n = 50). The difference in mean daily MVPA (intervention-control) was 2.8 (-12.5 to 18.0) min/ day at 8 weeks and 7.0 (-8.8 to 22.8) min/day at follow-up. For total PA, the differences were -2 (-127 to 124) cpm at 8-weeks and 11 (-121 to 143) cpm at follow-up. The interval estimates indicate that meaningful mean effects (both positive and negative) as well as trivial effects are reasonably compatible with the data and design. The intervention was received positively with continuation reported by the teachers and children. Classroom-based PA could hold promise for increasing average daily MVPA, but a large cluster randomised controlled trial is required.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0225997
Number of pages17
JournalPLoS One
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


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