Physical fitness of children in western countries is generally low: a slow decline in cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness over 20-30 years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was followed by a more dramatic decline following COVID-19 restrictions. Fitness is important to current and future physical and mental health of children, and to their educational attainment. We have good systems for monitoring child public health in Scotland (e.g., Scottish Health Surveys), but fitness measurement is not included in these. In many European countries ‘FitBack’ programmes have been developed to monitor fitness based on measurements made in school physical education (PE) classes. The act of monitoring and identifying problems with child fitness in those countries has inspired policy and practice efforts—both in public health and education—to reverse the decline in child fitness.
The overall objectives of this programme were to use the FitBack principles to develop a school-based fitness monitoring prototype in Scotland (‘FitBack Scotland’), then explore how fitness monitoring based on the prototype could be scaled up across Scotland in the longer-term.
Update December 2023
This SUII programme completed in 2023 with the development of the prototype fitness monitoring system for Scottish schools, ‘FitBack Scotland’. The prototype and related resources can be found on the Actify website where it will be hosted permanently: FitBack Scotland Hub.
Please use the materials on this Actify hub and feel free to promote it to others.
Next Steps for FitBack Scotland in 2024-2025 and beyond
During school year 2023-2024, the team are piloting the FitBack Scotland prototype fitness monitoring system. The piloting stage is one of the 10 steps recommended by FitBack Europe for the development of a fitness monitoring system.
Following the piloting phase, the team plan to modify the prototype as required, and then work with individuals and organisations across Scotland to scale-up fitness monitoring in primary schools.
If you want to find out more, to join the piloting phase, or to help us scale-up fitness monitoring across Scotland please contact Prof John J Reilly or Dr Farid Bardid.