Healthy Living Initiative: Running/Walking Club
Keywords:before-school program, American Indian youth, elementary school
AbstractThis study was grounded in the public health literature and the call for schools to serve as physical activity intervention sites. Its purpose was twofold: (a) to examine the daily distance covered by students in a before-school running/walking club throughout 1 school year and (b) to gain insights on the teachers’ perspectives of the club. Participants were students (N = 251) and teachers (N = 24) from an elementary school in one American Indian community in the southwestern United States. Physical activity (i.e., distance) data were collected over 4 weeks throughout the school year, and formal, semistructured interviews were conducted with a subsample of the teachers (n = 15). Physical activity data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, repeated measures ANOVAs, one-way ANOVAs, and independent t tests. Interview data were analyzed using inductive analysis and constant comparison. Findings indicated that students covered between 0.6 and 1.0 mile per day during the running/walking club. Also, findings indicated a significant increase in the average daily distance students covered over time as well as grade level and gender differences. Two themes emerged from the interview data: (a) teachers had positive perceptions of the running/walking club, and (b) teachers perceived themselves as positive physical activity role models for the students. The findings of this study point out that a before-school running/walking club can significantly contribute to students’ daily physical activity and that teachers have the potential to contribute to students’ physical activity and wellness outside of the classroom.
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