Physical activity is a major risk factor for CVD and is associated with CVD risk factors in children. While physical education (PE) is a potentially valuable method of providing children with physical activity, this potential is not being realized. Previous attempts to provide health-related PE have been characterized by failure and have not addressed the critical issue of maintenance. The primary purpose of the proposed demonstration and education study is to develop and evaluate a model elementary PE program (named SPARK) that is designed to increase physical activity both in and out of school. Intervention components include health-related activities in PE classes, continuing self- management skills training, family involvement and an incentive program. Since different states have different structures for PE, two levels of intervention will be compared to a control condition. In one condition, classroom teachers will be thoroughly trained to implement the program, and in the other condition, PE specialists will implement SPARK. Since previous research has indicated that the program is not fully implemented the first year, two cohorts of (initially) fourth graders will receive to years of intervention. An additional year of follow-up data will be collected n both cohorts. Four schools will be randomly assigned to each of the three conditions, for a total of twelve schools. Unlike all previous programs, SPARK systematically programs and assesses maintenance of physical activity over weekends, holidays, summers, and one full year. SPARK is designed to provide the motivation and skills needed to lay the foundation for lifelong exercise. Physical activity is the primary outcome, and it will be assessed by both self-report and objective measures on numerous occasions. Cognitive and physiological outcomes will also be assessed, and the process of implementation will be continually monitored.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
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San Diego State University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
San Diego
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