School physical education: Effect of the child and adolescent trial for cardiovascular health

Thomas L. McKenzie, Philip R. Nader, Patricia K. Strikmiller, Minhua Yang, Elaine J. Stone, Cheryl L. Perry, Wendell C. Taylor, Jacqueline N. Epping, Henry A. Feldman, Russell V. Luepker, Steve H. Kelder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

258 Scopus citations


Background. Physical inactivity is a risk behavior for cardiovascular and other diseases. Schools can promote public health objectives by increasing physical activity among youth. Methods. The Child and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health (CATCH) was a multicenter, randomized trial to test the effectiveness of a cardiovascular health promotion program in 96 public schools in four states. A major component of CATCH was an innovative, health-related physical education (PE) program. For 2.5 years, randomly assigned schools received a standardized PE intervention, including curriculum, staff development, and follow-up. Results. Systematic analysis of 2,096 PE lessons indicated students engaged in more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in intervention than in control schools (P = 0.002). MVPA during lessons in intervention schools increased from 37.4% at baseline to 51.9%, thereby meeting the established Year 2000 objective of 50%. Intervention children reported 12 more min of daily vigorous physical activity (P = 0.003) and ran 18.6 yards more than control children on a 9- min run test of fitness (P = 0.21). Conclusions: The implementation of a standardized curriculum and staff development program increased children's MVPA in existing school PE classes in four geographic and ethnically diverse communities. CATCH PE provides a tested model for improving physical education in American schools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-431
Number of pages9
JournalPreventive medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1996

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research supported by funds from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the U.S. Public Health Service: U01HL39880, U01HL39906, U01HL39852, U01HL39927, U0139870. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Thomas L. McKenzie, Ph.D., San Diego State University, Department of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, 6363 Alvarado Court, Suite 250, San Diego, CA 92120. Fax: (619) 594-8707.


  • CVD risk
  • children and adolescents
  • physical activity
  • school physical education


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