Promoting physical activity: A low cost intervention programme for disadvantaged schools in Port Elizabeth, South Africa

  • CM Walter
Keywords: Physical activity, physical activity intervention, physical education, in-school intervention.


Physical activity guidelines recommend that children accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) daily. In South Africa, children from historically black communities and schools, previously disadvantaged by apartheid, have limited physical activity opportunities due to the marginalization of physical education in the school curriculum, inadequate extra-curricula and community sports provision and the paucity or poor standard of available facilities and equipment. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of a 6-week low-cost in-school intervention in promoting MVPA at three disadvantaged primary schools in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The intervention was designed to stimulate free play in children. An experimental design involving quantitative and qualitative methods was used to evaluate the effect of the intervention. A total of 79 learners (ages 9 to 12, from Grades 3 to 6) and 9 teachers from three disadvantaged schools participated in the study. In-school physical activity was measured using ActiGraph accelerometers which were worn for 5 consecutive school days, pre- and 6-weeks post-intervention. Low-cost physical activity-friendly environments which included multicolour playground markings for games (hopscotch, 2-square and 4- square, mazes, and some traditional games), playground stations (balance beams, monkey bars, pull-up bars, tyre stations, shooting hoops, mini-soccer posts) and small equipment (skipping ropes, tennis balls, frisbees, soccer balls, netballs and rugby balls) were installed at participating schools, in partnership with school communities. The intervention was found to be effective in increasing children’s in-school MVPA in the short term, and provided data which could help to promote the provision of physical education in disadvantaged schools.

Keywords: Physical activity, physical activity intervention, physical education, in-school intervention.


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2411-6939