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Children 2018, 5(10), 138;

Exploring Gender Differences within Forest Schools as a Physical Activity Intervention

Health Services Research, Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L3 5DA, UK
Physical Activity Exchange, Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool L3 2AT, UK
Natural Sciences and Psychology, Research Centre for Brain and Behaviour, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool L3 5AF, UK
Community Development, The Mersey Forest Team, Risley Moss, Ordnance Avenue, Birchwood, Warrington WA3 6QX, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 August 2018 / Revised: 20 September 2018 / Accepted: 20 September 2018 / Published: 26 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour in Children and Adolescents)
PDF [1884 KB, uploaded 26 September 2018]


This study investigated whether children engaged in more physical activity (PA) on school days that included Forest School (FS) sessions than a regular school day or a school day with a Physical Education (PE) lesson. How FS sessions influenced children’s general levels of PA and wellbeing was also explored across gender. A mixed-methods study followed a sample of 59 child participants aged 7 to 9 years old, from four primary schools, whilst taking part in twelve weekly FS sessions. Measures included the PA Questionnaire for Older Children and accelerometry data together with an individual Write and Draw task to inform focus groups. Children had significantly greater levels of light PA on a FS day and a PE school day compared to a regular school day and children reported feeling both happier and relaxed as a consequence of the intervention. From the qualitative data, boys and girls reported different likes of the FS interventions, whereas their dislikes of FS were comparable. Findings from this research provide evidence for such outdoor, nature-based learning within the school curriculum contributing to daily PA in children. View Full-Text
Keywords: Forest School; natural play; physical activity; children; mixed methodology; accelerometry; gender Forest School; natural play; physical activity; children; mixed methodology; accelerometry; gender

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Trapasso, E.; Knowles, Z.; Boddy, L.; Newson, L.; Sayers, J.; Austin, C. Exploring Gender Differences within Forest Schools as a Physical Activity Intervention. Children 2018, 5, 138.

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