Dynamic Dudes are successfully increasing physical activity in primary school children
Health benefits of engaging in regular physical activity and avoiding sedentary behaviour are well documented, yet few children exercise enough. This is a job for Dynamic Dudes!
Physical activity levels in primary school children are well below the recommended 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity a day. Dynamic Dudes is a multicomponent school-based intervention utilizing the core behaviour change principles of the Food Dudes healthy eating programme to increase moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in the classroom, physical education lessons, and at break times.
Activity is occasioned by peer modelling videos and customized playground equipment that provides immediate consequences, creating environmental support for positive behaviour change. In-class videos feature the four Food Dudes characters modelling their signature activity moves, inviting children to progress through a series of 10 levels. Our pilot work in schools in Wales confirms that skill mastery is a powerful motivator for increasing activity levels in children aged 4–11 years, and that in-class videos are effective in interrupting sedentary behaviour whilst being acceptable to teachers.
We have just completed a controlled evaluation in four schools in England, using multiple measures of activity (Fitbit accelerometers) taken at school and home; fitness (20m shuttle run) and anthropometry (BMI, sitting height, waist circumference) at baseline and after the introduction of intervention components.
Our preliminary results show increases in physical activity in the intervention schools compared to control schools and to baseline, accompanied by increased cardiovascular fitness for the children in intervention schools.
This research had been supported by two Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS) funding for a Masters by Research to Sophie Mitchell and Shona Whitaker, working with Prof Horne, Dr Viktor, and Dr Erjavec. We also thank Food Dudes Health Ltd; the schools who took part; and the School of Psychology, Bangor University, for their contributions.