Effects of an after-school physical activity programme on aerobic fitness and physical activity levels of adolescents from a disadvantaged community: PLAY Study
This article reports on the findings of a quasi-experimental study undertaken to determine the effects of an after-school physical activity intervention programme on the aerobic fitness and physical activity levels (PA levels) of adolescents living in a socio-economically disadvantaged community. The study comprised an experimental group of 252 African Grade 8 adolescents (116 boys and 136 girls) with a mean age of 14.8 years (±1.43) and a control group of 66 African Grade 8 adolescents (21 boys and 45 girls) with a mean age of 13.9 (±1.04). Members of the experimental group took part in the PA intervention programme twice a week for 60 minutes per session. The 60-minute programme was divided into 30 minutes of aerobic training, 15 minutes of strength and flexibility training and 15 minutes of sport-related ball skills. The experimental group was subdivided into sub-groups based on each individual’s attendance of the programme. The results reveal that the experimental sub-group with the highest programme attendance (>70%) exhibited higher levels of aerobic fitness and PA. These findings highlight the health benefits of encouraging adolescents to participate in high-intensity physical activity programmes. In addition, during the course of the intervention programme it emerged that many of the participants faced certain barriers that impeded their ability to participate in after-school activities. As such, it is recommended that such programmes be introduced during school hours for those adolescents residing in disadvantaged communities.
Keywords: Physical activity, intervention, aerobic fitness, adolescents, disadvantage community.