Exercise videos in school classrooms could be a cost-effective solution to help introduce more physical activity into schools, an American Council on Exercise (ACE) study has concluded.

Research, supported by ACE and performed by Dr Leon Greene at the University of Kansas’ Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Sciences, involved 16 teachers and more than 400 students in second, third, fourth and fifth grade classes.

PE teachers helped researchers design eight exercise videos targeted at each age group. The students exercised with 10-minute videos up to twice a day for one month.

Using accelerometers and the system for observing fitness instruction time (SOFIT) tool, which assesses PE classes and collects data on student activity levels, the results showed pupils reached a moderate level of exercise intensity, the equivalent of a brisk walk or slow jog, during each video.

Data showed that 20 to 25 per cent of the children reached a vigorous intensity.

After four weeks of up to two video exercise sessions per day, students were more active and, according to the teachers, better behaved.

“It’s important for children to develop a positive relationship to movement and physical activity while they’re young.

This will make it much less challenging to incorporate movement into their lifestyle as an adult,” said ACE chief science officer Cedric X Bryant.

He said that videos could be a powerful low-cost tool to both getting youngsters moving now and keeping them moving throughout their lives.

“One in five children in the US is obese,” said Bryant. “Daily movement will help lead kids to better health and enhanced learning ability. When kids grow up with the idea that movement is an integral aspect of all parts of life, we can start shifting the tide on the global epidemic of preventable inactivity-related diseases. That means a world of healthier and happier lives.”