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Uniform solution to encourage school children’s physical activity

Uniform solution to encourage school children’s physical activity
January 1, 2019

Newly published research suggests letting school children wear their sports uniforms every day could encourage them to be more active during their school day lunch breaks.

A new Australian study, published in the Australia and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, saw a team from Newcastle University survey 832 NSW school students in grades four to six. With all participating schools having a policy of only allowing sports uniforms to be worn on sports days, children were questioned about their attitudes to ditching traditional school uniforms in favour of sports uniforms and how they thought this change would impact their activity levels.

The results were clear, showing that the majority of students (61.6%) reported that they would prefer to wear their sports uniform every day, while 32.5% said they didn't mind.

Most importantly, 62.1% of students said that ditching the black school shoes and wearing a sports uniform each day would result in them being more active at recess and lunch.

In the research, the authors advised “despite a large proportion of children indicating that they would prefer to wear their sports uniform instead of their traditional uniform, and a perception by many children that they would be more active during breaks if they were able to do so, all schools had a policy precluding them from wearing sports uniforms on non-sports days.

"Given the low prevalence of children, particularly girls, meeting physical activity guidelines and the decline in physical activity as children age, allowing students the opportunity to wear more activity-friendly uniforms may represent a simple, inexpensive and potentially effective strategy in achieving population-level improvements in children's physical activity."

The latest research follows a 2012 Australian study which found that girls, but not boys, were significantly more physically active at recess, lunch and more generally, when wearing their sports uniform compared to their winter uniform.

The authors concluded at the time, "a physically restrictive school uniform has the potential to inhibit physical activity among primary-school-aged girls.”

Further Australian research, also published in 2012, found that uniform design, particularly in the private school sector, restricts movement and is "generally impractical for the majority of physical activities", advising “this leads to feelings of discomfort, particularly in mixed-gender environments, and reluctance to engage in play.”

The authors added that schools could reconsider their policies to allow a unisex physical education uniform during the lunchtime period, stating "a practical design allowing ease of movement would increase children's feelings of comfort and self-confidence when engaging in physical activities.”

The Newcastle University findings have been applauded by Australian group, Girls Uniform Agenda, who have been advocating for changes to girls' school uniforms for the past two years.

Earlier this year, the NSW Government updated its school uniform policy in a "modern makeover" to include the option for girls to wear shorts and pants.

The same policy also now exists in Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria.

Related Articles

22nd April 2018 - NSW leads nationwide efforts to encourage children’s activity

19th March 2018 - Australian-first multicultural uniform guide opens sport to CaLD participants

17th November 2017 - New AusPlay figures show football leads sport participation rates in Australia

7th March 2017 - Australian active wear sales predicted to soar

30th January 2017 - AIS joins University of Newcastle study into athlete recovery

8th December 2016 - Landmark study finds sport struggling to keep youth engaged

25th September 2016 - 1.2 million primary school students participate in Sporting Schools program

8th December 2015 - Technogym helps Ambarvale High School students embrace a healthier lifestyle

9th May 2015 - New athletics program to engage 850,000 Australian school children

7th February 2014 - School developed app set to revolutionise Queensland children’s activity

12th March 2011 - After-school exercise declines in NSW despite Federal backing

9th December 2009 - Obesity Experts Critical of Active After-School program

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