Although adolescence is a time when physical activity levels decline, few interventions have targeted high school–aged girls in the school setting.
To evaluate the effects of a life skills–oriented physical activity intervention for increasing overall physical activity in high school–aged girls.
Randomized controlled trial.
Baltimore magnet high school.
A total of 221 ninth-grade girls, 83.0% of whom were African American.
Participants were randomized to an 8-month physical intervention conducted in physical education class or to a standard physical education class (control).
Main Outcome Measures
Self-reported estimated daily energy expenditure (physical activity), self-reported sedentary activities (television viewing and computer or Internet use), cardiorespiratory fitness, and selected cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Intervention classes spent 46.9% of physical education class time in moderate to vigorous activity compared with 30.5% of time for control classes (P<.001). There were no significant between-treatment group differences for mean daily energy expenditure (P = .93), moderate-intensity energy expenditure (P = .77), or hard to very hard energy expenditure (P = .69). The proportion of participants who spent 3 or more hours viewing television during school days declined from 22.3% to 17.0% in the intervention group, but remained at 26.7% for the control group (P = .03). Both groups improved their cardiorespiratory fitness (P<.001).
A life skills–oriented physical education curriculum may need to be combined with other approaches to increase the magnitude of effects on physical activity behavior in predominantly African American high school–aged girls.