Impact of a race on the diet and physical activity of primary school children

Por: Claude Savard e Gilles Lepine.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Daryl Siedentop (1994), a renowned physical education and sport researcher, posits that sports educators can motivate children to be active physically by finding ways of helping them celebrate their involvement through the creation of a festive atmosphere. This is why a 4-km race in which several thousand students and their teachers and sports celebrities took part was organized in Québec City, Canada. The event, Défi de la santé, and other events of its kind stimulate young people to participate in extracurricular activities outside the framework of regular physical education classes.


To assess the impact of Défi de la santé on the students, a questionnaire was produced and given out to 351 of the 3000 participating students (Savard, 2003). The answers were analyzed on the basis of the impact that Défi had had on students’ physical activity and diet.




182 boys and 169 girls answered the questionnaire. Generally, 80% of respondents had either walked or run the entire 4 kilometres. 98% said they had enjoyed or greatly enjoyed the event. 84% said that Défi de la santé had given them a greater taste for physical activity, and 72% said they intended to eat more fruits and vegetables in the future. 61% said they had been motivated by the fact that this was a group rather than a solo activity. 54% of the girls said that preparing for the race had motivated them to eat more fruits and vegetables, compared with 35% of the boys.

Discussion/ conclusion

Défi de la santé proved to be a good activity for motivating boys and girls alike to make physical activity a habit. Even though the girls were significantly more motivated to eat healthily than boys were, preparing for a 4-km race seems a good way of raising awareness of a healthy diet.



[1]. Siedentop, D. (1994) Sport Education: Quality PE Through Positive Sport Experiences (D. Siedentiop editor). Human Kinetics, Champaign, Ill. 141 p.

[2]. Savard, C., Charest, M.P. (2003) Analyse de d’impact de l’activité DÉFI 2003. Research Report presented to ARSEQCA. Québec. 50 p.

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