Objectives: Although evidence supports the benefits of incorporating physical activity (PA) after school and standards for quality after-school programs (ASPs) include PA, evaluation of policies to increase PA after school is nonexistent. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of an evidence-informed policy-level ASP intervention on youth pedometer-determined PA.
Design: This study was a quasi-experimental community-based intervention (Movin' Afterschool), with a pre-/posttest design, without a control.
Setting: Movin' Afterschool took place in the after-school setting.
Participants: Participants were children (5–12 years old) attending 1 of 12 ASPs in Nebraska during the fall and spring of 2010–2011.
Intervention: Movin' Afterschool was an evidence-informed policy-level intervention.
Main Outcome Measures: Physical activity was measured using pedometers.
Results: Children averaged 3145 steps per day at baseline and 3042 steps per day at postassessment. There were no effects of sex, body mass index percentile, age, or the interaction of these covariates on steps. Three ASPs experienced substantial declines in PA compared with the remaining 9 ASPs. Excluding these 3 sites, there was an average increase in steps per day in the remaining 9 sites. No significant contribution was observed with the covariates.
Conclusion: This was the first study to provide evidence for the initial effectiveness of a policy-level intervention on youth PA participation while attending an ASP despite the failed attempt by some ASPs to improve PA. Further research may help determine the following: (1) the amount of support necessary to help ASPs modify their planning to meet policies, and (2) strategies that should be emphasized during staff training to ensure that staff are able to implement PA policies.
This study provides preliminary evidence that policy-level interventions can improve physical activity levels in youth attending after-school programs.
School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Arizona State University, Phoenix.
Correspondence: Jennifer Huberty, PhD, School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Arizona State University, 500 N Third St, Phoenix, AZ 85004 (Jennifer.Huberty@asu.edu).
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.