Peer Mentoring Is Associated With Positive Change in Physical Activity and Aerobic Fitness of Grades 4, 5, and 6 Students in the Heart Healthy Kids Program

  • Spencer R
  • Bower J
  • Kirk S
 et al. 
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Only 7% of Canadian children achieve activity recommendations, contributing to obesity and preventable disease. The Heart Healthy Kids (H2K) program was designed to test the relationship between peer mentoring, physical activity, and cardiovascular fitness. Participants from 10 schools (5 control, 5 intervention) were enrolled in the program. In control schools, H2K included a physical activity challenge and education sessions. Intervention schools included the addition of a peer-mentoring component. Physical activity was measured through daily pedometer recording. Cardiovascular fitness was evaluated using the PACER (Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run) protocol to calculate maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max). Participants included 808 children (average age 9.9 ± 1.0 years). Although control and intervention schools did not differ at baseline, participants with peer mentoring logged significantly more steps per school day, on average, than those in control schools (6,785 ± 3,011 vs. 5,630 ± 2,586; p < .001). Male participants logged significantly more steps per school day than female participants. A significant improvement in VO2 max was also noted in intervention schools, with an average increase of 1.72 ml/mg/min. H2K was associated with positive change in physical activity and cardiovascular fitness, suggesting that peer mentoring shows promise for application in health promotion interventions.

Author-supplied keywords

  • behavior change
  • child/adolescent health
  • health promotion
  • physical activity/exercise

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  • Sara FL KirkDalhousie University

  • Rebecca A. Spencer

  • Jenna Bower

  • Camille Hancock Friesen

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