Improving children's physical self-perception through a school-based physical activity intervention: The Move for Well-being in School study

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Purpose Physical activity at school can improve the mental health of all children – especially if it targets children's developmental needs and is carried out in a positive social climate. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of a 9-month school intervention focusing on physical self-worth, self-perceived sport competence, body attractiveness, social competences and global self-worth in children aged 10–13 years. Methods Taking self-determination theory as its starting point, the intervention was developed and pilot-tested in close co-operation with schools. It targeted 1) PE lessons, 2) in-class activity outside PE, and 3) physical activity during break-time. It used a cluster-randomized design to select 24 Danish schools either for intervention or for control. Survey data on self-perception variables, socio-demographics and physical activity was collected prior to intervention and after 9 months. Results A total of 2797 children were included in the analyses. All five self-perception variables increased between baseline and follow-up, and there were no significant differences between intervention and control schools. Sub-group analyses of gender, social class, body image and leisure sport revealed significant differences at baseline for most self-perception variables. For students with no leisure sport participation at the intervention schools, the follow-up results showed a more positive development for global self-worth. Conclusions Despite limited overall intervention effects on self-perceived competence and self-worth, the intervention appeared to diminish the gap between those groups with most and those with least self-confidence. Even though many of the new activities and approaches were implemented, some teachers were challenged to create a positive social climate.

TidsskriftMental Health and Physical Activity
Sidetal (fra-til)31-38
StatusUdgivet - 2018

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