Open Access Open Badges Study protocol

“Girls on the Move” intervention protocol for increasing physical activity among low-active underserved urban girls: a group randomized trial

Lorraine B Robbins1*, Karin A Pfeiffer2, Amber Vermeesch1, Kenneth Resnicow3, Zhiying You1, Lawrence An4 and Stacey M Wesolek1

  • * Corresponding author: Lorraine B Robbins

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 College of Nursing, Michigan State University, 1355 Bogue Street, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA

2 Department of Kinesiology, College of Education, Michigan State University, 27R IM Sports Circle, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA

3 School of Public Health, University of Michigan, 1415 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA

4 Center for Health Communications Research, University of Michigan, 2800 Plymouth Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:474  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-474

Published: 15 May 2013



Increasing moderate to vigorous physical activity among urban girls of low socioeconomic status is both a challenge and a public health priority. Physical activity interventions targeting exclusively girls remain limited, and maintenance of moderate to vigorous physical activity during the post-intervention period has been difficult to maintain. The main aim of the 5-year “Girls on the Move” group randomized trial is to evaluate the efficacy of a comprehensive school-based intervention in increasing girls’ minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity and improving cardiovascular fitness, body mass index, and percent body fat immediately post-intervention (after 17 weeks) and at 9-month post-intervention follow-up (9 months after end of intervention).


A total of 24 urban middle schools in the Midwestern U.S. will be randomized to either receive the intervention or serve as a control (N = 1200 girls). The intervention, based on the Health Promotion Model and Self-Determination Theory, will include: (1) two face-to-face motivational, individually tailored counseling sessions with a registered nurse, one at the beginning and the other at the end of the intervention period; (2) an interactive Internet-based session during which each girl receives individually tailored motivational and feedback messages via iPad at 11 weeks (shortly after midpoint of intervention); and (3) a 90-minute after-school physical activity club. Racially diverse, low-active, 10- to 14-year-old 5th to 8th-grade girls will complete questionnaires and physical measures at baseline and post-intervention (n = 50 per school). Minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity will be assessed with accelerometers. Cardiovascular fitness will be assessed by estimating VO2 max with PACER (Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run) scores. Height and weight will be assessed to calculate body mass index. Percent body fat will be estimated with a foot-to-foot bioelectric impedance scale. Linear mixed effects regression analyses will be performed to assess intervention effects.


This multi-component approach is expected to improve girls’ moderate to vigorous physical activity and related physical outcomes.

Trial Registration Identifier NCT01503333

Group randomized trial; Physical activity; Adolescents; Females; School; Intervention; Tailored counseling; Motivational interviewing