16 A physical activity intervention in school induces positive life style changes in young adulthood – a 11-year prospective controlled study

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Abstract

Introduction

A majority of children do not reach recommended levels of physical activity (PA). This trend is disquieting since low PA is a risk factor for disease. We examined whether daily PA during compulsory school encourages children to be more physically active, and whether this habit continues into adulthood.

Materials and methods

This prospective controlled study, followed the same 124 children (aged 7.7±0.6; mean ±SD) – 81 children in an intervention group and 43 controls – during a 7 year controlled exercise intervention study, and four years after the intervention. The intervention included daily school PA (200 minutes/week) and controls continued with Swedish standard of 60 minutes PA/week. Using questionnaires, we gathered data about total PA, leisure time PA and sedentary activities (SA). Group comparisons are adjusted for age and gender and data are provided as means with 95% confidence intervals.

Results

At baseline, we found no statistical significant differences in duration of PA and SA between groups. After seven years, the intervention group were more physically active than controls, whereas SA was similar. Four years beyond the intervention, the intervention group were still more physically active than controls (2.7 (0.8, 4.7) hours/week) whereas SA was still similar (−3.9 (-9.7, 1.7) hours/week).

Conclusion

Intervention with daily school PA throughout compulsory school is associated with a more physically active lifestyle that remains into young adulthood.

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