Physical Activity Interventions in Schools for Improving Lifestyle in European Countries

Gioia Mura1, *, Nuno B.F Rocha 2, Ingo Helmich 3, Henning Budde 4, Sergio Machado 5, Mirko Wegner 6, Antonio Egidio Nardi 5, Oscar Arias-Carrión 7, Marcello Vellante 1, Antonia Baum 8, Marco Guicciardi 9, Scott B Patten 10, Mauro Giovanni Carta1
1 Department of Public Health, Clinical and Molecular Medicine, University of Cagliari, Italy
2 Polytechnic Institute of Porto, School of Allied Health Sciences, Porto, Portugal
3 Department of Neurology, Psychosomatic Medicine, and Psychiatry, Institute of Health Promotion and Clinical Movement Science, German Sports University, Cologne, Germany
4 Medical School Hamburg, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Pedagogy, Reykjavik University, School of Sport Sciences, Reykjavik, Iceland
5 Laboratory of Panic and Respiration, Institute of Psychiatry, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
6 Institute of Sport Science, University of Bern, Switzerland
7 Unidad de Trastornos del Movimiento y Sueño (TMS), Hospital General Dr. Manuel Gea Gonzalez, Secretaria de Salud, México, DF, Mexico
8 Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Major League Baseball
9 Department of Pedagogy, Psychology, Philosophy, University of Cagliari, Italy
10 Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Canada

Article Metrics

CrossRef Citations:
Total Statistics:

Full-Text HTML Views: 1176
Abstract HTML Views: 451
PDF Downloads: 339
Total Views/Downloads: 1966
Unique Statistics:

Full-Text HTML Views: 834
Abstract HTML Views: 313
PDF Downloads: 256
Total Views/Downloads: 1403

Creative Commons License
© Mura et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Public Health, Clinical and Molecular Medicine. University of Cagliari, Italy; Tel: +39 070 6093498; E-mails: and


Background : In the last decades, children’s and adolescents’ obesity and overweight have increased in European Countries. Unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyle have been recognized to determine such an epidemic. Schools represent an ideal setting to modify harmful behaviors, and physical activity could be regarded as a potential way to avoid the metabolic risks related to obesity. Methods : A systematic review of the literature was carried out to summarize the evidence of school-based interventions aimed to promote, enhance and implement physical activity in European schools. Only randomized controlled trials were included, carried out in Europe from January 2000 to April 2014, universally delivered and targeting pupils aged between 3 and 18 years old. Results : Forty-seven studies were retrieved based either on multicomponent interventions or solely physical activity programs. Most aimed to prevent obesity and cardiovascular risks among youths. While few studies showed a decrease in BMI, positive results were achieved on other outcomes, such as metabolic parameters and physical fitness. Conclusion : Physical activity in schools should be regarded as a simple, non-expensive and enjoyable way to reach all the children and adolescents with adequate doses of moderate to vigorous physical activity.

Keywords: European countries, obesity prevention, physical activity, school-based intervention.