The backdrop to the Daily Mile is a global childhood physical activity crisis. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that children get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day but fewer than 40% of children achieve these levels. The number of overweight and obese children has increased dramatically in recent years, and lack of exercise and too much sitting around will be part of the reason. Overweight kids are at higher risk of diabetes, strokes and heart disease in later years, so this directly affects both their quality of life and potentially their lifespan.
Equally alarmingly, children’s physical fitness has significantly declined since at least the 1980s. They can’t run as far without stopping as their parents could.
The Daily Mile seemed to offer a free, simple solution to help fight this crisis, so it was easy to see why it spread across Scotland, the UK and the world, with 10,000+ schools in more than 70 countries adopting the approach.
But there was a problem. There was not enough evidence to suggest the Daily Mile was actually working.
By taking small steps and jogging, walking or running for 15 minutes, people can make huge changes to their health and wellbeing. We want Scotland to be the first ‘Daily Mile Nation'.
showed a simple local solution could improve the fitness of school pupils
schools in more than 70 countries have adopted the approach
improves a child’s fitness, attention and memory
Our research suggests that The Daily Mile is a worthwhile intervention to introduce in schools and that it should be considered for inclusion in government policy, both at home and abroad.
Our research suggests The Daily Mile is an effective, flexible tool in improving child health and wellbeing. Following the scheme’s success, the Scottish Government has outlined its desire for Scotland to become the first Daily Mile nation, with around half of the country’s primary schools now implementing the approach.
There has been interest from the UK Government and the scheme has attracted the attention of other countries, with the Netherlands, Belgium and parts of the USA among those to have already adopted the approach.
The next step in our research is to understand whether it can work in different educational settings, such as high schools, and whether it works equally well for pupils from different backgrounds.