Physical activity and primary school interventions – A Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership Scheme

About this research

This research project is being carried out at the University of Exeter within the Children's Health and Exercise Research Centre in partnership with the Somerset Activity and Sport Partnership (SASP).

Our main aim for this project is to establish the acceptability and feasibility of implementing physical activity into primary school classrooms, from both a teacher and pupil perspective. This information will then allow us to design an informed intervention that could be rolled out across primary school classrooms in a subsequent study. This will allow us to assess outcomes such as a child's time on task and behaviour as well as the physiological benefits that interrupting prolonged sitting with physical activity can have on children's health.


  • Children's physical activity (PA) levels are of continuing concern as the health implications for both childhood and later on in adulthood may be determined by their experiences of PA whilst growing up (Telema et al., 2009).
  • Only 17.5% of children and young people reported meeting the current UK Chief Medical Officers' guidelines and took part in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) every day. This suggests that what is currently being done to support physical activity in children and young people is not enough and change is required.
  • Children spend up to 30 hours a week at primary school and approximately 50-70% of their time is spent sitting.
  • Previous PA research consistently identifies classroom lessons as the most sedentary and least active segment of a young person's day, therefore introducing activity during this time offers an attractive opportunity for an intervention.
  • The World Health Organization has specifically identified schools as a target setting for the promotion of PA among children in order to create an active environment, develop habits and raise awareness.
  • The consequences of excessive sedentary behaviour are not well understood in children however there is growing evidence that increased sedentary time in childhood is associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk (McManus et al., 2015).
  • It is unrealistic to expect support from school administrators of increasing PA in classrooms without demonstrating a clear academic benefit to physical activity in classrooms. Head teachers are also more likely to prioritise health promotion if they believed that student health and education outcomes were linked (Jessiman et al., 2019).
  • Studies have shown that implementing just 6 minutes of MVPA in a 35 minute lesson can improve a pupils time on task by 27% (Grieco et al., 2016). Time on task is a direct measure of attention and behavioral control and, thus, student engagement, and is positively associated with academic performance (Stallings., 1980).
  • Teachers have a limited amount of time and resources, therefore need more support and tools in order to effectively integrate movement in the classroom (Orlowski et al., 2013). The evidence base for effective interventions remains limited (Dobbins 2013).

Further Information

If you would like more information about this research or are interested in getting involved in future research done at the University of Exeter Children's Health and Exercise Research Centre then please contact:

Rebecca Chorlton –

Dr Bert Bond –

Professor Craig Williams –

Dave Bullock

Dave Bullock

Taunton/ West Somerset School Games Organiser

01823 653996

Partners and Sponsors

Partners and Sponsors

  • Sport England
    Active Partnerships
    Somerset Business Award Winner
    Somerset Chamber of Commerce
    Disability Confident
  • Somerset Skills & Learning
    Youth Sport Trust
    activity alliance
    Somerset Partnership
    Somerset County Council
    Avon & Somerset Police
  • Homes in Sedgemoor
    Macmillan Cancer Support
    Community Council for Somerset
    Spark Somerset
    YMCA Dulverton Group
    Department for Work & Pensions
  • EDF
    together team
    Somerset Cricket Board
    British American Football Association
    Badminton England
  • Somerset FA
    British Cycling
    Create Development
    Children in Need
    The Salvation Army
  • Channel Adventure
    Nova Sports & Coaching
    Somerset Community Foundation
    Sports Coach UK