Daily Mile is path towards healthier pupils
Schoolchildren running 15 minutes a day could help tackle problems such as obesity and sedentary behaviour on a global scale, according to new research.
The first study of the popular Daily Mile initiative – which involves children taking a 15-minute break from class to do physical activity – has confirmed it improves fitness, body composition and activity levels in participants.
The research, led by the universities of Stirling and Edinburgh, showed that the Daily Mile can help combat global problems such as low physical activity, high sedentary behaviour, declining fitness levels and high levels of obesity.
Hundreds of pupils
Experts worked with 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 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 measurements taken for body fat, and were assessed on their performance at a bleep test.
After correcting for age and gender, the team witnessed significant improvements in the school where the Daily Mile was introduced, relative to the school with the usual curriculum.
Children from the Daily Mile school showed a relative increase of 9.1 minutes of MVPA per day and a relative decrease of 18.2 minutes per day in sedentary time. They also covered, on average, 39.1 metres more during the beep test, while their body composition improved too.
There were similar results when the data was adjusted to additionally account for socioeconomic circumstances.
Schools can help support pupils to be more active by taking part in the Daily mile. The benefits of an active lifestyle are wide reaching and important for education as well as for health.
The paper, The Daily Mile makes primary school children more active, less sedentary and improves their fitness and body composition: a quasi-experimental pilot study, is published in BMC Medicine.
The study was jointly led by Dr Colin Moran and Dr Naomi Brooks, of the University of Stirling’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, and Dr Josie Booth, of the University of Edinburgh’s Moray House School of Education. It also involved a number of other experts from Stirling and the University of the Highlands and Islands.
Our research 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.
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 scheme’s success, the Scottish Government has outlined its desire for Scotland to become the first Daily Mile nation, with around half of the country’s 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 USA among those to have already adopted the approach.