n South African Journal of Sports Medicine - Evaluation of a school-based physical activity intervention in Alexandra Township : original research article




. Non-communicable diseases and limited participation in school physical education have become increasing concerns in South Africa. In response to these concerns, a school-based physical activity intervention, Healthnutz, was implemented in three primary schools in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg. Evaluation of Healthnutz included assessing its feasibility and acceptability, and short-term changes in learners' physical fitness, knowledge and attitudes.

. To assess feasibility and acceptability, a situational analysis and focus groups with teachers and programme monitors were conducted. Pre-post fitness testing (3-month interval) was conducted with learners, and a questionnaire assessed changes in learners' knowledge, attitudes, self-efficacy, and perceived barriers to physical activity, in control and intervention schools.
. At implementation, teachers identified the need for more physical activity in the school environment and were positive about Healthnutz. Follow-up focus group discussions suggested that it was positively impacting teachers, learners and the school in general. Scores for sit and reach (p<0.001), sit ups(p<0.02) and shuttle run (p<0.0001) improved significantly in intervention but not control schools. A significant decrease was observed in learners' perceived external barriers to physical activity(p<0.0001) along with a positive change in learners' self-efficacy for physical activity (p<0.05).
. Healthnutz raised awareness of the importance of physical activity in intervention schools. Findings indicate that even limited exposure to a physical activity intervention can lead to a significant improvement in aspects of learners' fitness,knowledge, attitudes and perceptions regarding physical activity.Furthermore, training and support of teachers needs to be non-judgemental and empowering.


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