Primary schools predominantly chose to implement walking, jogging or running as the type of activity, as per the original Daily Mile concept.
One interviewee said: “It catered for all abilities… the ones that maybe are a bit slower, because you’ll get out there and some of the kids will just run around and they want to know how many laps they can do. Whereas, you’ve got other ones that are happy just to walk.”
At another school, teachers replaced The Daily Mile with The Daily Skip, due to space constraints within the small playground. However, the alternative scheme proved “very challenging” for various reasons, including: the cost of equipment; the logistics of managing the skipping ropes; and the skills required to skip.
“They highlighted how these challenges, which move away from the original simple design, plus other demands from within the curriculum, meant that The Daily Skip was only happening sporadically, if at all,” Dr Ryde said.
The study found that schools typically participated in The Daily Mile three to five times per week – normally on days with no scheduled physical education.
Teacher autonomy was an important factor in implementation, with staff deciding the best time of day to take the schoolchildren outdoors, while adaptability was also important, with teachers able to change the initiative – such as the route or surface – according to their environment and context.
Dr Ryde added: “The Daily Mile appears to have several factors which may relate to its implementation success. These are important considerations for others looking to implement The Daily Mile effectively in their primary school or in other contexts.”
Elaine Wyllie, of the Daily Mile Foundation, said: “I am delighted that the research undertaken by the University of Stirling has confirmed that The Daily Mile works best when it is put in place according to our core principles.
“Their research has shown that implementation should be kept simple, following the advice for schools that has been set out by The Daily Mile Foundation.
“I’d like to thank the University of Stirling for carrying out this work and highlighting that the adoption of our straightforward approach ensures that children can enjoy all the benefits of The Daily Mile.”
The study, The Daily Mile: What factors are associated with its implementation success, is published in PLOS ONE.