Open Access Highly Accessed Study protocol

Improving health-related fitness in children: the fit-4-Fun randomized controlled trial study protocol

Narelle Eather12*, Philip J Morgan12 and David R Lubans12

Author Affiliations

1 Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition, School of Education, University of Newcastle, Callaghan Campus, Newcastle, Australia

2 University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:902  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-902

Published: 5 December 2011

Abstract

Background

Declining levels of physical fitness in children are linked to an increased risk of developing poor physical and mental health. Physical activity programs for children that involve regular high intensity physical activity, along with muscle and bone strengthening activities, have been identified by the World Health Organisation as a key strategy to reduce the escalating burden of ill health caused by non-communicable diseases. This paper reports the rationale and methods for a school-based intervention designed to improve physical fitness and physical activity levels of Grades 5 and 6 primary school children.

Methods/Design

Fit-4-Fun is an 8-week multi-component school-based health-related fitness education intervention and will be evaluated using a group randomized controlled trial. Primary schools from the Hunter Region in NSW, Australia, will be invited to participate in the program in 2011 with a target sample size of 128 primary schools children (age 10-13). The Fit-4-Fun program is theoretically grounded and will be implemented applying the Health Promoting Schools framework. Students will participate in weekly curriculum-based health and physical education lessons, daily break-time physical activities during recess and lunch, and will complete an 8-week (3 × per week) home activity program with their parents and/or family members. A battery of six health-related fitness assessments, four days of pedometery-assessed physical activity and a questionnaire, will be administered at baseline, immediate post-intervention (2-months) and at 6-months (from baseline) to determine intervention effects. Details of the methodological aspects of recruitment, inclusion criteria, randomization, intervention program, assessments, process evaluation and statistical analyses are described.

Discussion

The Fit-4-Fun program is an innovative school-based intervention targeting fitness improvements in primary school children. The program will involve a range of evidence-based behaviour change strategies to promote and support physical activity of adequate intensity, duration and type, needed to improve health-related fitness.

Trial Registration No

Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Register (ANZCTR): ACTRN12611000976987