The Daily Mile makes primary school children more active, less sedentary and improves their fitness and body composition: A quasi-experimental pilot study

Ross Chesham, Josephine Booth, Emma Sweeney, Gemma Ryde, Trish Gorely, Naomi Brooks, Colin Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The Daily Mile is a physical activity programme made popular by a school in Stirling, Scotland. It is promoted by government and has growing popularity nationally and internationally. The aim is that each day, during class time, pupils run/walk outside for 15 minutes (~1 mile) at a self-selected pace. It is anecdotally reported to have a number of physiological benefits including increased physical activity, reduced sedentary behaviour, increased fitness and improved body composition. This study aimed to investigate these reports.

We conducted a quasi-experimental repeated measures pilot study in two primary schools in the Stirling Council area: one school with, and one without, intention to introduce the Daily Mile. Pupils at the control school followed their usual curriculum. Of the 504 children attending the schools, 391 children in primary 1-7 (age 4-12 years) at baseline assessment took part. Follow-up assessment was the same academic year. Outcomes were accelerometer assessed average daily moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) and average daily sedentary behaviour, 20 metre shuttle run fitness test performance and adiposity assessed by sum of skinfolds at 4 sites. Valid data at both time points were collected for 118, 118, 357 and 327 children respectively for each outcome.

After correction for age and gender, significant improvements were observed in the intervention school relative to the control school for MVPA, sedentary time, fitness and body composition. For MVPA a relative increase of 9.1 mins per day (95%CI 5.1 to 13.2 mins, SMD=0.407, p=0.027) was observed; for sedentary time a relative decrease of 18.2 mins per day (10.7 to 25.7 mins, SMD=0.437, p=0.017); for shuttle run, a relative increase of 39.1 m (21.9 to 56.3, SMD=0.236, p=0.037); and, for skinfolds a relative decrease of 1.4 mm (0.8 to 2.0 mm, SMD=0.246, p=0.036). Similar results were obtained when a correction for socioeconomic groupings was included.

The findings show that in primary school children the Daily Mile intervention is effective at increasing levels of MVPA, reducing sedentary time, increasing physical fitness and improving body composition. These findings have relevance for teachers, policy makers, public health practitioners, and health researchers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number64
Number of pages14
JournalBMC Medicine
Issue number1
Early online date10 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Daily Mile
  • children
  • physical activity
  • primary school
  • fitness
  • body composition


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