A systematic review of school-based interventions targeting physical activity and sedentary behaviour among older adolescents

S-T Hynynen, M. M. van Stralen, F. F. Sniehotta, V. Araujo-Soares, W. Hardeman, M. J. M. Chinapaw, T. Vasankari, N. Hankonen

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Lack of physical activity (PA) and high levels of sedentary behaviour (SB) have been associated with health problems. This systematic review evaluates the effectiveness of school-based interventions to increase PA and decrease SB among 15-19-year-old adolescents, and examines whether intervention characteristics (intervention length, delivery mode and intervention provider) and intervention content (i.e. behaviour change techniques, BCTs) are related to intervention effectiveness. A systematic search of randomised or cluster randomised controlled trials with outcome measures of PA and/or SB rendered 10 results. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane risk of bias tool. Intervention content was coded using Behaviour Change Technique Taxonomy v1. Seven out of ten studies reported significant increases in PA. Effects were generally small and short-term (Cohen’s d ranged from 0.132 to 0.659). Two out of four studies that measured SB reported significant reductions in SB. Interventions that increased PA included a higher number of BCTs, specific BCTs (e.g. goal setting, action planning and self-monitoring), and were delivered by research staff. Intervention length and mode of delivery were unrelated to effectiveness. More studies are needed that evaluate long-term intervention effectiveness and target SBs among older adolescents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-44
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date22 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


  • physical activity
  • sedentary behaviour
  • adolescents
  • school-based intervention
  • behaviour change techniques

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