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Jul 2nd 05:54:35 AM

Prove it! BOKS Rocks and Gets Kids Fit!

By Brooke Rosenbauer

In a recent study published in the Journal of Exercise, Sports, and Orthopedics, Dr. Wayne Westcott has proven what BOKS trainers and volunteers know and experience every day: BOKS gets kids fitter and healthier. Dr. Westcott, a prolific researcher, author, and educator in the field of fitness, studied the physiological impact of a nine-week BOKS program on its participants from the Weymouth Public School District in Massachusetts.

Building on the work of the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST), which found that BOKS has a significant impact on cognitive performance, nutrition knowledge, and daily physical activity, Dr. Westcott concluded that “The BOKS before-school physical activity program is effective for reducing percent body fat, fat weight, and increasing aerobic performance in preadolescent boys and girls”. 

In Dr. Westcott’s study, 81 BOKS participants were evaluated along with 31 control group participants, all in grades K-4. Compared to the control group, BOKS participants significantly decreased body fat percentage and fat weight and significantly improved in aerobic performance, as measured by the 400 meter run, during the course of the nine-week BOKS program. These results stayed true even after statistically controlling for differences between the groups including gender, age, and baseline measurements. 

BOKS was inspired by the scientific work of Harvard’s Dr. John Ratey and we continue to ensure that the program remains evidence-based. In the coming year, BOKS will be building upon the research of NIOST, Dr. Ratey, and Dr. Westcott by engaging in a large-scale study with Harvard University to investigate the impact of BOKS on a broad set of psychological, cognitive, social, brain performance, academic and lifestyle health behavior outcomes.

In light of the increasing inactivity trends throughout the United States and the world, it is even more crucial that we continue to instill a love for physical activity in our children. BOKS trainers and volunteers play a significant role by acting as positive role models to get kids moving and having fun. BOKS is in over 1,300 schools, but we aren’t stopping there. The results of Dr. Westcott’s study can easily be replicated in your community by enrolling your school and running the BOKS program! 

If you are already running BOKS, please view the study as further evidence to substantiate your amazing hard work and dedication. If you haven’t run BOKS yet, please read the study and feel free to use the information to convince your principal or administrator that BOKS rocks! We have also created a handy one-pager to summarize all of the BOKS evaluations to date. Knowledge is power!

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  • Importance of Dr Westcott;s Study


    This is the first published study and we will be having more coming to highlight the impact of BOKS on our kids. BOKS is fun, kids are having fun and want to participate and the result is that they are fitter and leaner and often this means they will remain fit throughout their lives. The major finding for me here, is that the kids, both girls and boys, who participated in BOKS lost a significant amount of body fat as they were growing over this 9 week study. This shows that being active and having FUN in the day can offset the tendency of kids to become overweight and obese. When they begin to add lean weight and not add more fat cells during their growth periods, they will set themselves up to be leaner throughout their lives. Dr. Westcott and his team did yeoman's work to not just get BMIs, too often seen as the gold standard which missing important data in a large percentage of people, but focused on that harder measure of looking at the actual fat versus lean weight as a result of participating in the BOKS program.

    Additionally, the second finding of major importance is an improvement again compared to the control group that did not participate, in their aerobic function. Now in all studies that are out there and there are 1000s of millions of kids and adults, this is the measure that we aim for to improve executive function. So if they can exercise quicker and longer in studies this always results in the kids being sharper in thought, better at sequencing their thoughts, better at remembering, quicker to recognize mistakes and shift to a different strategy, improving their attention, and their memory. So if they remain in the BOKS programs and continue making these gains, this not only makes them healthier, but it leads to better school performance, which adds self-esteem, increases their motivation to learn, and leads to more of a quest to explore new material.

    One of the first findings we see with the BOKS program or other frequently run PE programs or PLAY in these elementary level kids, but any students, is a reduction in discipline problems. This occurs almost immediately and it especially effects those kids who have the most trouble containing themselves, which makes class time more valuable for all. More on this as we go on in the year.