Purpose: To test the effectiveness of an intervention to increase motivation for physical activity in racially diverse third- through fifth-grade students. Design: Natural experiment. Setting: Elementary schools in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Participants: Two hundred ninety-one students in 18 Minne-Loppet Ski Program classes and 210 students in 12 control classrooms from the same schools. Intervention: The Minne-Loppet Ski Program, an 8-week curriculum in elementary schools that teaches healthy physical activity behaviors through cross-country skiing. Measures: Pretest and posttest surveys measured self-determination theory outcomes: intrinsic exercise motivation, intrinsic ski motivation, autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Analysis: Hierarchical linear regression models tested treatment effects controlled for grade, race, sex, and baseline measures of the outcomes. Results: Minne-Loppet program students showed significantly greater motivation to ski (β = 0.95, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.15-1.75) and significantly greater perceived competence (β = 0.78, 95% CI: 0.06-1.50) than students in control classrooms. Treatment effects for general exercise motivation and perceived competence differed by race. African American students in Minne-Loppet classes showed significantly greater general exercise motivation (β = 1.08, 95% CI: 0.03-2.14) and perceived competence (β = 1.95, 95% CI: 0.91-2.99) than African American students in control classes. Conclusion: The Minne-Loppet program promoted perceived competence and motivation to ski. Future improvements to the Minne-Loppet and similar interventions should aim to build general motivation and provide support needed to better engage all participants.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Jonathan M. Miller is supported by grant T32CA163184 from the National Cancer Institute (PI: Michele Allen).
- low income
- racial minority groups
- specific populations
- specific settings
- underserved populations
- young children