Y Path

All children should be physically active for at least 60 minutes on all days of the week in order to benefit their current and future health, unfortunately the vast majority of youth in Ireland and across the world fall well short of this minimum guideline. The Y-PATH research commenced at DCU in 2010, with a view to finding out just how much physical activity young people are doing, why young people weren’t participating in physical activity, how well they were able to carry out fundamental movement skills (such as running, jumping, catching and throwing), and finally to use all of this information to develop an intervention to improve physical activity levels.

Our goal is to get more young people, more active, more often

In 2010 we carried out some research involving 256 12-13 year olds, and found that 67% were not accumulating the minimum 60 minutes of physical activity recommended daily for health, and that 99.5% did not achieve the fundamental movement skill proficiency expected for their age. We found that active young people had a much better attitude towards physical activity, and a stronger belief in their own abilities to be active. We also found that active young people understood the role physical activity plays in ensuring health and well-being, while inactive young people were not aware of the role physical activity plays. Based on this information and a review of the literature the Y-PATH intervention was developed.


he school physical education (PE) based Y-PATH (Youth-Physical Activity Towards Health) intervention programme aims to improve Physical Activity (PA) levels of first year post-primary youth through education about the importance of PA for health, improving levels of motivation, regulation, and empowerment, exposure to a range of modes of activity, development of fundamental movement skill levels (FMS), and generating a supportive environment for PA through working with parents and teachers. The Y-PATH programme was evaluated in a non-randomised controlled trial (n = 174, 12-14 years) in 2011/12, with results showing the intervention to be effective in increasing PA and FMS levels of participants (O’Brien et al., 13, click here for more information).

In order to confirm the efficacy of the Y-PATH intervention, the research team commenced work on a two-arm randomised controlled trial in September 2013, where 22 second level schools (n = 622 students from 22 first year class groups sampled) in the greater Dublin area were randomly allocated to either implement the one year Y-PATH programme (intervention group) or their usual PE curriculum (control group) for the academic year 13/14. The intervention group will experience the Y-PATH intervention as detailed here, measures as detailed below will be taken with both control and intervention participants at three time points: pre-test (September 2013), post-test (May 2014), and retention test (September 2014).


Youth-Physical Activity Towards Health: evidence and background to the development of the Y-PATH physical activity intervention for adolescents.

Authros: Belton, S., Wesley, O., Meegan, S., Woods, C., & Issartel, J. (2014). Journal: BMC public health14(1), 122. FULL TEXT

Evidence for the efficacy of the Youth-Physical Activity Towards Health (Y-PATH) intervention.

Authors: O’Brien, W., Issartel, J., & Belton, S. (2013). Journal: Advances in Physical Education3(4). FULL TEXT

Patterns of non-compliance in adolescent field based accelerometer research. 

Authors: Belton, S., O’Brien, W., Wickel, E., Issartel, J. (2013). Journal: Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 10, 1181 – 1185 FULL TEXT

Step count and BMI of Irish primary school children. 

Belton, S., Brady, P., Meegan, S. & Woods, C. (2010). Preventive Medicine. 50:189-192. FULL TEXT



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