Physical inactivity has been described as a global pandemic, as it is one of the leading causes of death and disability in Australia and globally. It is directly linked to chronic conditions including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, and some cancers. This is of concern to both adults and youth, as although these conditions are usually apparent in adulthood, the foundations of these diseases are established during youth.
To combat the risks associated with inactivity, guidelines suggest youth should participate in 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily. Despite recommendations, it is estimated that 80% of youth are not meeting prescribed physical activity guidelines for health, with evidence suggesting a secular decline in youth physical activity levels.
In 2014, the Australian physical activity guidelines were updated to include a recommendation that young people should engage in activity to strengthen muscles (e.g., resistance training) three times per week, reflecting the growing body of evidence highlighting the physical and mental health benefits of muscular fitness. Resistance training is a type of physical activity specifically designed to improve muscular fitness. Despite the well-established benefits of resistance training for youth, negative misconceptions regarding safety, the need for specialised equipment, and the training of facilitators (e.g., teachers and coaches) have emerged as barriers to widespread adoption. As schools present a unique opportunity to deliver public health interventions, the aims of my PhD thesis are to: i) assess the effectiveness of the ‘Resistance Training for Teens’ school-based physical activity program; and ii) evaluate program dissemination throughout NSW secondary schools. As such, my thesis is focused on understanding the process of dissemination within school settings. There is currently a lack of dissemination research in this area, despite a need to understand how to translate positive findings from efficacy/effectiveness studies into the real world setting.