London: The Daily Mile - a popular initiative in the UK which involves children taking a 15-minute break from class to do physical activity - improves fitness, body composition and activity levels in school students, a study has found.
Researchers from University of Stirling and University of Edinburgh in the UK said that policymakers should consider introducing The Daily Mile to improve the health and fitness of schoolchildren around the world.
The findings indicate The Daily Mile can help combat global problems such as low physical activity, high sedentary behaviour, declining fitness levels and high levels of obesity.
"Our research observed positive changes in children who participated in The Daily Mile intervention, compared to our control school where the scheme was not introduced," said Colin Moran from University of Stirling.
"It suggests that The Daily Mile is a worthwhile intervention to introduce in schools and that it should be considered for inclusion in government policy, both at home and abroad," Moran said.
The Daily Mile was founded in February 2012 by Elaine Wyllie, the then headteacher of St Ninians Primary School in Stirling, to improve the fitness of her pupils.
Children are encouraged to run, jog or walk around their school grounds during a 15-minute break from class, which is in addition to normal intervals and physical education lessons.
Following the schemes success, the Scottish Government has outlined its desire for Scotland to become the first Daily Mile nation, with around half of the countrys primary schools now implementing the approach.
There has been interest from the UK Government and the scheme has attracted the attention of other countries, with the Netherlands, Belgium and parts of the US among those to have already adopted the approach.
The research team conducted their research at two primary schools within the Stirling Council area, with 391 pupils, aged between four and 12, participating. Each child underwent an initial assessment and then a follow-up later in the academic year. Between times, one school implemented The Daily Mile, while pupils at the other - known as the control school - followed their usual curriculum.
Children wore accelerometers to record their average daily minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) and average daily sedentary behaviour.
They also had skinfold measurements taken to check body fat, and were assessed on their performance at a multistage fitness test, where they ran between cones 20 metres apart between bleeps.
After correcting for age and gender, the team witnessed significant improvements in the intervention school, relative to the control school.
"We observed a relative increase of 9.1 minutes per day in terms of MPVA and a relative decrease of 18.2 minutes per day in sedentary time. Children at the intervention school covered, on average, 39.1 metres more during the shuttle run, while their body composition improved too," said Naomi Brooks of the University of Stirling. PTI