EAST LANSING, Mich. With the help of a $3.6 million federal grant, a Michigan State University nursing researcher is expanding a pilot program statewide to help middle school girls particularly minority girls in urban, low socioeconomic settings increase their physical activity.
The five-year Girls on the Move project, led by Lorraine Robbins of the College of Nursing and funded by the National Institutes of Health, focuses on individual and web-based counseling sessions with school nurses and an after-school physical activity club.
Less than 4 percent of middle school girls meet physical activity recommendations, Robbins said, and as they progress from sixth- to eighth-grade, moderate to vigorous physical activity declines, contributing to weight gain. The decline is particularly evident among urban, minority girls of low socioeconomic status.
School nurses are well positioned to drive school-based health programs such as those targeting physical activity, she said: "Nurses can adequately counsel students on increasing physical activity by exploring their personal, and sometimes unique, perceptions and providing support for positive change."
Robbins said the success of the pilot program at the two Lansing middle schools led to the new federal funding. Compared to the control school, students at the intervention school showed trends toward greater improvement in all physical measures: minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per hour, cardiovascular fitness, body mass index, body fat percentage and waist circumference.
In addition, she added, as rapport was established with the school nurse, the girls became more willing to share their thoughts and express concerns, including those related to their general health and well-being.
Now, the 17-week intervention will expand to schools in Jackson, Flint, Ypsilanti, Detroit, Muskegon and Kalamazoo.
"Our long-term goal is to increase mode
|Contact: Jason Cody|
Michigan State University