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Why is Transform-Us! needed?

Research shows that children have better academic and cognitive outcomes when they learn in an active way.[1] Active classrooms may also help children who find it difficult to concentrate when they sit for too long.[2] In addition, there are many physical, mental and social benefits of children moving more and sitting less throughout the day.

Higher levels of physical activity and reduced sitting can:

  • Improve children’s heart health
  • Maximise their bone and muscle strength and physical fitness
  • Help children maintain a healthy weight
  • Improve children’s social skills, self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Result in better quality sleep

How much physical Activity and sedentary behaviour do children need?

Based on known health benefits,[3] the Australian Government have developed guidelines indicating the amount of physical activity that children should do to maintain good health and wellbeing, as well as what limits to place of children’s sedentary behaviour.

Recommendations state that children (aged 5-17) should:

  • Accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day
  • Limit use of electronic media for entertainment to no more than two hours a day
  • Break up long periods of sitting as often as possible

Please see http://www.health.gov.au for more information.

How active are Australian children?

Currently only 14% of boys and 12% of girls in Australia meet both the physical activity and sedentary guidelines every day. [4]

14% of boys and

 

12% of girls, and

Children spend most of their waking hours at school and home, and research shows that approximately 64% of this time is spent sitting.[5] These statistics show that we really need to target children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviours both at school and at home. Transform-Us! takes advantage of opportunities to incorporate movement and reduce sitting throughout the day, in both the school and home settings.

Research underpinning Transform-Us!

Transform-Us! was developed by a team of researchers led by Professor Jo Salmon at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin University.[6] From 2009 to 2013, it was tested in 20 Melbourne primary schools, with 226 teachers and 1600 children in grade 3 participating (595 children were involved in the evaluation).

Schools and teachers were asked to deliver the program for a 2.5 year period (children were in grade 5 at the end of the study). During that time, information about children’s physical activity levels and sitting time was collected, as well as about the children’s health. Teachers and children also reported their perceptions of the program and its impact on concentration and behaviour in class. To find out more about what the program involves please click here.

The final results were very positive showing that, compared to children attending schools that did not receive the program, children who participated in Transform-Us!:

  • Spent at least 30 minutes less time per day being sedentary throughout the day
  • Spent about 10 minutes more being physically active during recess and lunchtime breaks
  • Had lower BMI, waist circumference, systolic blood pressure, and LDL cholesterol levels
  • Had higher vitamin D levels

Teachers and children also reported that Transform-Us! helped them concentrate in class, reduced restlessness and fidgeting, and improved classroom behaviour. One year after the trial finished, teachers in Transform-Us! reported the following:

  • 81% would continue with the active lessons
  • 92% would continue with the active breaks
  • 96% would continue with active homework strategies
  • 94% of teachers would continue using the line markings and equipment.

Overall, the Transform-Us! results showed how simple and easy the program was to implement and demonstrated positive outcomes for the children and teachers.

Research partnership

Following the success of the Transform-Us! intervention, the Victorian Department of Education and Training (DET) along with our stakeholders VicHealth, Independent Schools Victoria, Victorian Principals Association, Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (ACHPER) and PEAK Phys Ed wish to offer the program to all primary schools in Victoria, Australia.

Our partners believe this efficacious program can substantially benefit all primary school children and warrants widespread implementation.

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