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Loughborough researchers to evaluate the best way to get school children more active

Loughborough University researchers are working with the national charity Kids Run Free and London Marathon to assess the best way to get school children more active.

Kids Run Free has launched its Kids Marathon programme, a primary school based initiative which challenges children to complete a marathon over a whole school year.

A research group led by Dr Lauren Sherar, from the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, part of the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine East Midlands, are examining the factors that influence the successful uptake and use of Kids Marathon.

Based on a similar concept to the Daily Mile, Kids Marathon, which has been running for three years, aims to encourage children to take part in regular physical activity. Schools are provided with support to implement the programme and encourage pupils to walk or run the equivalent distance of a half or full marathon across a year.

PhD student Anna Chalkley who is part of the University’s research group said: “Schools have an important role to play in providing opportunities for children to be active every day. There are a number of initiatives available to schools to encourage their pupils to be active, but little is known about how best to effectively engage with schools and which pupil, teacher and school characteristics are associated with successful participation.

“This information is crucial in determining the extent to which programmes such as Kids Marathon can be used to have the best impact on children’s health and to reach those most in need.”

Dr Sherar and her team have now started to collect information on the experiences of schools, teachers and pupils across England and Wales who have already taken part in Kids Marathon.

A more in depth evaluation will be conducted with schools recruited from the East Midlands, who will be taking part in the programme for the first time during the 2016/ 2017 academic year. Researchers will track school’s participation over the whole academic year in order to assess how the programme is used in practice.

The findings of the study will be used to inform the development of Kids Marathon for scale out across the UK.

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