School in Motion

Testing and evaluation of models for physical activity for pupils in lower secondary schools.

Location: Norway, multicenter study involving four different universities: Norwegian Schools of Sport Sciences(1), University of Stavanger(2), Univesity of Agder(3) and Western Norway University of Applied Scienes(4).

Sample: 2087 adolescents from 29 secondary school around the centers.

Timeline: 2016 to 2019

Target Group: 15-year-olds

Outcome of Interest: Physical health, mental health, academic performance and learning environment.

NSD Registration Number: 49094

Data: physical health (physical activity, muscle strength, cardiorespiratory fitness and anthropometry), mental health (general mental health, quality of life, self-perception, strength and difficulties), academic performance (standardize national tests) and learning environment.

Project leader: Elin Kolle, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences

Local coordinator at University of Stavanger: Eva Leibinger

Research group: Elin Kolle(1), Jostein Steene-Johannessen(1), Reidar Sävfenbom(1), Sigmund A. Anderssen(1), May Grydeland(1), Ulf Ekelund(1), Inge Dehli Andersen(1), Geir Kåre Reseland(4), Øystein Lerum(4), Hege Eikeland Tjomsland(4), Sveinung Bertsen(3), Lena Hansen Malnes(3), Tommy Haugen(3), Sindre M. Dyrstad(2), Andreas Åvitsland(2), Eva Leibinger(2) og Runar Barstad Solberg(1).

Funders: Ministry of Education and Research, the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training


Regular physical activity is an important factor for the physical and mental health of children and adolescents. Physical activity level drops through adolescence, and many youths do not meet the minimum level of physical activity recommended to achieve health benefits. Data from national mapping studies in Norway show that while about 90% of 6-year-olds satisfy the recommendations for a minimum of 60 minutes daily activity of at least moderate intensity, only half of the 15 year olds are sufficiently active. Data from the Young Data Survey in 2018 shows that a large proportion report mental problems and challenges in adolescence. Depression and anxiety disorders are the most common challenges, and girls are more afflicted than boys. Development of models where physical activity can affect both physical and mental health, as well as learning and learning environment is thus highly relevant.

The project is carried out on behalf of the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training. ScIM is part of an effort to create a better knowledge base for future work with physical activity in secondary schools and it is defined in the “Public Health Report – Mastery and Opportunities”.


ScIM is a school-based, three-arm cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) recruiting adolescents from lower secondary schools in Norway. A total of 2084 14- year-olds from 29 schools were included, yielding a participation rate of 76%.


Schools (clusters) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions:

1) The physical active learning group (PAL-group), where the schools each week included one additional physical education (PE) lesson, 30 minutes of physical active learning, and 30 minutes of physical activity (intervention condition M1);

2) The don't worry – be happy group (DWBH-group), where the schools included one new activity class (60 minutes: Be Happy class) and one additional PEclass (60 minutes: Don't Worry class) per week (intervention condition M2);

3) Current practice (control condition).

ScIM was implemented over 9 months, from September 2017 to May 2018.


An identical set of outcome measures were taken from all participants at baseline, and approximately 12 months after the baseline measures, when the participants were at the end of year 9th. They were tested on selected variables related to physical health (physical activity, muscle strength, cardiorespiratory fitness and anthropometry), mental health (general mental health, quality of life, self-perception and strength and difficulties) academic performance (standardize national tests) and learning environment. Furthermore, we also performed qualitative interviews with students, teachers and leaders at the intervention schools to obtain an in-depth understanding of pedagogical processes taking place during the intervention.


The main report is available her. A publication regarding ScIM design and methods is sent to a journal. Further publications are under procedure.