The impact of a school-based physical activity intervention on learners' health behaviour.
Nyawose, Siphamandla Eugene.
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Introduction: Five percent of South African youth are obese, 20% overweight, 13% stunted and eight percent is underweight. Physical activity among children and adolescents is believed to be insufficient and low levels of physical activity seem to persist from childhood into adulthood with this increasing prevalence of obesity and overweight among children and adolescents, development of interventions to promote PA in children and adolescents is a priority (van Sluijs et al., 2007). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of a school-based PA intervention on learners’ health behaviour. Methods: This study was a quasi experimental, non-equivalent groups design. An intervention programme and assessment pre- and postintervention was conducted. Two schools (one control and one experimental) from the Clermont Township in KwaZulu-Natal were purposively selected by KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health. Grade six learners (n=129), their parents (n=19), school principals (n=2) and educators (n=21) participated in this study. Learners completed a battery of tests and completed a physical activity questionnaire for data collection. Principals and educators were interviewed to determine their perspectives on physical activity teaching and learning. Parents participated in focus group sessions. The intervention was implemented in the experimental school for the four month intervention period by the educators. Discussion and conclusions: Study findings indicate that a schoolbased PA intervention programme can increase learners’ fitness levels. The study showed that the introduction of various methods of physical activity within the schools’ existing curriculum, working with educators and parents can improve physical fitness and healthy eating habits in the learners without disrupting normal learning and teaching in the school. Furthermore, this study a school-based physical activity intervention can improve physical activity awareness among teachers, learners and parents.