With the rising obesity epidemic, UWA is conducting a study to measure students' normal activity levels and patterns throughout the school day. The Year 5 students at a Perth Primary School are the initial subjects of the study. As a participant, each student has been provided a Fitbit for an eight-week period to chart activity.
In the short-term, this is the first study that has used wearables to measure school children's activity over a prolonged period, Should the data collection be feasible, the data can be used to look at the links between activity and behaviour as well as educational outcomes. This in-the-field information will allow researchers to make recommendations about optimal activity levels during the school day.
The students are becoming more aware of their activity levels and reaching, or 'smashing,' daily step goals. Although, several parents are attempting to curb the competitive behaviour of their children, many find it a beneficial programme at the early data collection stage.
"Jake is obsessed with his Fitbit! He is constantly checking the steps. One night before dinner, he ran the football oval twice so that he could break 30,000 steps. Although, Jake has always been an active child, he now has a visible way to measure his activity level.
"Understanding his activity levels also helps to calm him down. Because of the monitor, Jake can feel satisfied that he has had enough activity for the day. This 'check' allows him to focus better on his homework." commented Mum Alice.