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A primary school active break programme (ACTI-BREAK): study protocol for a pilot cluster randomised controlled trial

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journal contribution
posted on 19.09.2017, 00:00 authored by Amanda Watson, Anna TimperioAnna Timperio, Helen BrownHelen Brown, Kylie HeskethKylie Hesketh
BACKGROUND: Levels of overall physical activity have been shown to decline across childhood. Schools are considered ideal settings to promote physical activity as children spend a large amount of their waking hours at school. Time-efficient physical activity strategies that demonstrate a positive impact on academic-related outcomes are needed to enable physical activity to be prioritised in the school day. The ACTI-BREAK programme requires classroom teachers to integrate active breaks; 5-min bursts of moderate-intensity physical activity into their classroom routine. Active breaks have been shown to be effective in improving academic-related outcomes, a potentially appealing aspect for teachers and schools. The primary aim of this study is to assess the feasibility and potential efficacy of the ACTI-BREAK programme on children's academic achievement. Secondary aims are to explore the impact of ACTI-BREAK on children's on-task behaviour and objectively measured physical activity levels. METHODS: ACTI-BREAK is a 6-week, classroom-based, physical activity intervention. This pilot trial of the programme will be evaluated using a cluster randomised controlled design. Government primary schools in metropolitan Melbourne, Australia will be invited to participate in the programme in 2017. Randomisation will occur at the school level, with the aim to recruit six schools (three intervention and three control). The ACTI-BREAK programme is theoretically grounded, and was developed with input and guidance from current primary school teachers. Teachers from the intervention schools will receive a 45-min training session and be asked to incorporate ACTI-BREAKS into their classroom routine three times per day for 6 weeks. Intervention support will be provided via assisted delivery. The primary outcomes will be children's academic achievement in mathematics and reading. Children's on-task behaviour and school-day physical activity will be assessed as secondary outcomes. Process evaluation will also be carried out. DISCUSSION: The ACTI-BREAK programme has been designed to be a time-efficient, feasible and appealing approach to physical activity promotion for schools. This study will assess required teacher time commitment and the potential for the ACTI-BREAK programme to improve academic-related outcomes and school-day physical activity levels with the potential for a full-scale trial in the future. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australia New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, identifier ACTRN12617000602325 . Retrospectively registered on 27 April 2017.






Article number



1 - 11


BioMed Central


London, Eng.





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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2017, The Authors