TransformUs – Boosting physical activity in every Victorian classroom

Scalability of the TransformUs program to promote children’s physical activity and reduce prolonged sitting in Victorian primary schools.

This project builds on the highly acclaimed TransformUs, designed by IPAN researchers to get more Aussie kids moving in schools.

The culmination of many years of research led by Alfred Deakin Professor and IPAN Director Jo Salmon, TransformUs is designed to re-frame the way children learn, by adopting a whole-of-school approach to incorporate opportunities to move more and sit less inside and outside the classroom.

On a typical school day, Australian children spend up to 70 per cent of their waking hours sitting. Prolonged sitting and sedentary behaviour puts children at risk of chronic diseases in the future, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Conversely, it’s also been shown that regular physical activity can boost fitness, heart and bone health, and mental health. It can also improve cognitive development and lead to better academic results.

TransformUs uses innovative strategies within the classroom, school and home settings to get students moving more and sitting less. It helps students learn better as well as improving their health and wellbeing. Strategies involve incorporating movement into everyday class lessons – so the delivery of the lesson changes, not the content. TransformUs provides active homework options and supports parents to incorporate movement and reduce sitting at home.

It is designed to be delivered by all primary classroom teachers in Victoria and it does not focus on sport or physical education. Full curriculum aligned lesson plans and supporting resources are made available after the online teacher training module is completed.

What TransformUs does for kids

Earlier trials of TransformUs at 20 primary schools in Melbourne over two and a half years yielded promising results, including:

  • Spent up to 63 minutes less time sitting on school days
  • Spent 5 minutes a day more in moderate to vigorous activity
  • Had higher vitamin D levels
  • Reduced Body Mass Index (BMI), waist circumference and blood pressure
  • Increased attentiveness in class – with 85% per cent of teachers reporting that their students had improved concentration in class after an active break.

Funding through an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Partnership Grant and VicHealth is making TransformUs available to all Victorian primary schools.