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Effects of the Get Youth Moving (GYM) Intervention on Health-Related Fitness and Behaviors

Kristie Sanders, J.P. Barfield, Kathy Hodge, Isaiah Phillips, Alesondra Pino


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Get Youth Moving (GYM) program was developed through a joint collaborative of community recreation, coordinated school health, and hospital outreach to offer overweight and obese children an effective behavior change program during the summer school break. The purpose of this study was to document the effects of the GYM program on health-related physical fitness and behavior in overweight and obese youth. Participants (N = 28) between the ages of 9 and 12 years were tested before and after the GYM intervention on aerobic fitness (one-mile run), body composition (body mass index), muscular fitness (curl-up), and lower-body flexibility (sit-and-reach). Participants and their parents were also administered a validated physical activity and nutrition behaviors survey prior to and following the GYM intervention. Findings demonstrated improved scores on aerobic fitness, muscular fitness, and lower-body flexibility, while body mass index remained unchanged. Additionally, survey data revealed a marked increase in weekly exercise frequency and a substantial decrease in sweetened beverage use after the GYM intervention, whereas gains in parental nutritional decision-making were more modest. Finally, feedback from community partners provided insights on the benefits and limitations of the program model. Overall, the impact of the GYM intervention on health status was similar to that observed for summer residential weight loss programs of similar duration and highlights the importance of community collaboration to combat obesity in youth during the summer months. 


Physical Activity; Physical Fitness; Behavior Change; Children

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