The purpose of this study was to examine the changes in physical activity (PA), physical fitness and psychosocial well-being in early adolescents following implementation of a school-based health promotion program in secondary schools.
Six municipalities in Telemark County, Norway, were recruited into intervention (6 schools) or control groups (9 schools). A total of 644 pupils participated in the study (response rate: 79%). The schools in the intervention group implemented the Active and Healthy Kids program, where the PA component consisted of (1) 120 min/week of physically active learning (PAL) and (2) 25 min/week of physical active breaks. Furthermore, both the intervention and control schools carried out 135 min/week of physical education. The primary outcome was PA. Secondary outcomes were sedentary time, physical fitness, subjective vitality and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in five domains: physical health, psychological well-being, parent, peers and school.
There was a group x time effect on school-based PA (p < 0.05), but not total PA, as well as on physical fitness (p < 0.05) and vitality (p < 0.01). In girls, there also was a group x time effect on three out of the five domains on HRQoL (p < 0.05).
A multi-component, school-based health-promotion program with emphasis on the use of PAL led to positive changes in school-based PA levels. Furthermore, positive changes were seen in physical fitness, vitality and HRQoL among early adolescents in a county with a poor public health profile. This might have implications for the development and promotion in schools of general health and well-being throughout adolescence.