The latest data from 2012 show that children are becoming less active, with only 21% of boys and 16% girls meeting current guidelines of at least one hour of moderate physical activity per day.
Three years ago the head teacher of St Ninian’s Primary, Stirling decided to do something about her pupil’s observed lack of fitness. Starting with one P6 class she introduced running or walking a mile into the school day, every day, and very soon all classes were participating. The ‘daily mile’ is taken at any time during the school day depending on where it fits best and teachers estimate the children are only away from their desks for 15 minutes. According to staff it’s important that the mile is outside, pupils are happy to participate in nearly all weathers, and do not need to change their clothes to do so. The ‘daily mile’ has also been used in cross curricular leaning e.g. maths and topic learning such as world city marathons. Teachers, pupils and their families are hugely enthusiastic about this free initiative.
Observed benefits of the scheme, in addition to improved fitness and lower levels of overweight and obesity, include improved focus and learning, better sleep, better eating, and increased confidence.
To date the evidence base for claims of benefit has been anecdotal but researchers at the University of Stirling are conducting the WHEEL research study, a comparative study to assess the physical, cognitive and emotional benefits of the daily mile. The results are anticipated soon. In November 2015, the Scottish Education and Health Secretaries announced they would write to all primary schools in Scotland to encourage them to implement daily physical exercise as part of the school routine, through the roll out of the ‘daily mile’ or other approaches. As a result the ‘daily mile’ has been adopted in over 300 schools across Scotland with plans for more than 100 more to start the initiative in the near future and a further 150 schools participate in alternative daily exercise or plan to do so soon. And now the ‘daily mile’ is to be trialled in other parts of the UK with planned out roll out if successful. Mighty oaks do indeed grow from little acorns!
This article was originally published in the SCPN Newsletter Volume 7, Issue 2. Read the full issue here, or read the digital edition below (great full screen on mobiles).
In our second issue of 2016, Scotland's new cancer strategy, human rights and cancer prevention, the updated Eatwell guide, as well as the usual breakdown of cancer prevention research and news from the Scottish Cancer Prevention Network.