Exploring The Daily Mile and its impact on childhood obesity

Article title: Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of The Daily Mile on childhood weight outcomes and wellbeing: a cluster randomised control trial.

Professor Emma Frew and researchers at the University of Birmingham (Institute of Applied Health Research) and Birmingham Services for Education evaluated the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of The Daily Mile programme in 40 primary schools across Birmingham, funded by Birmingham City Council.

They measured BMI, body fat percentage, fitness, quality of life, wellbeing and attainment in pupils in school years 3 and 5, comparing schools participating in The Daily Mile to those not (control group). They also evaluated the cost effectiveness of the initiative.

They found that The Daily Mile did not have a clinically important effect on BMI overall, but it did have a modest effect on BMI in girls with consistent findings for body fat percentage. The intervention was found to be highly cost effective for girls, but not for boys, although these findings need to be interpreted with caution due to high levels of missing quality of life data. Fitness, wellbeing and quality of life increased slightly in The Daily Mile group but again suffered from a high level of missing data.

They concluded The Daily Mile has a modest impact on body mass index, and is potentially highly cost effective in girls; but needs to be part of a comprehensive prevention programme to address childhood obesity.

Read the full article online or download the paper, published in the International Journal of Obesity on 28th January 2020.

Peakirk cum Glinton C of E Primary School
“The biggest barrier for us was finding curriculum time to dedicate to The Daily Mile”

Fact File

Where we’re based: Glinton, Cambridgeshire

Roll: 230

When we started The Daily Mile: April 2019

Our Daily Mile Story

230 pupils from Peakirk cum Glinton C of E Primary School have been completing The Daily Mile since April 2019. All children do The Daily Mile at their own pace and questionnaires have revealed that nearly all the children who answered said they felt healthier since taking part. Children in the younger classes in particular are constantly asking “When are we doing our Daily Mile?”.

We complete The Daily Mile on our all-weather track which has been laid into the school field, and was officially opened by ex-pupil Luke Steele (Goalkeeper, Nottingham Forest, currently on loan to Millwall), who took time out of his busy schedule to come and cut the red tape.

The biggest barrier for us was finding curriculum time to dedicate to The Daily Mile. This was overcome with the support of our headteacher who presented research to staff regarding the benefits of exercise on brain power! Once it was made clear that all teachers were expected to make it happen it became much easier for us.

We did experience some less active children in the beginning looking for excuses not to participate (needing the toilet, bad ankle etc.), however these excuses didn’t last long and the handful of children making these excuses now run and run and run! We don’t have any children trying to avoid it now – even as the weather has got colder it hasn’t deterred.

Parents have access to our school track before and after school and often we see parents and their children running or walking their own Daily Mile before or after school (admittedly more in the summer months than in the winter!!).

Katherine Jenson, our PE Coordinator, has been at the school for nearly 10 years and has always worked hard to keep our children as active and enthusiastic to participate in as many sporting challenges as possible. When she heard about The Daily Mile initiative, she couldn’t wait to launch it at the school. As a keen runner herself and having run various marathons the children and their parents have always shown an interest her running and none more so that when she ran the New York Marathon in Nov 2019 which had been on her bucket list.

The support Katherine received from the school was immense. So many children wanted to ask questions about running marathons and how to train for them. The day following the New York marathon the children celebrated Katherine’s success by running their own marathons. Each class had to run a total of 26.2 miles collectively. Teachers joined in too. Some classes ran more than a marathon and the Head teacher recorded a total of 185 miles run on that one day alone!

When Katherine returned from New York she talked through the route with the children and shared her photos, medal and race poncho with them. She also told the children how proud she was to hear they had run their own marathon and that she hopes one day many of them will do what she has done.


To find out more about Peakirk cum Glinton Primary School please visit www.pcgprimaryschool.co.uk.

Prae Wood Primary School
“It gives pupils the chance to ‘get things off their chest’”

Fact File

Where we’re based: St Albans, Hertfordshire, England

Roll: 413

Our Daily Mile Story

Helen Paine is a teacher from Prae Wood Primary School and tells us about their experience of The Daily Mile.

We have been doing The Daily Mile since the start of the Autumn term 2019. 413 pupils run The Daily Mile around our AstroTurf track, which was funded through a Healthy Schools Capital Funding Bid.

We had wanted to start The Daily Mile for about a year but felt it wouldn’t be a year round activity without a dedicated track. The opportunity to apply for funding was our only option and we made use of the support of our The Daily Mile Coordinator, Alex Varran, to put together a funding bid. Once the bid was confirmed, we were able to replace the existing path to create a completely new continuous track using a material more suited to running and daily use.

The Daily Mile has proved popular amongst both staff and pupils.  Teachers often use The Daily Mile as an opportunity to refocus the class and notice that pupils’ concentration improves once they have had a movement break. Pupils benefit in various ways depending on their own individual motivations – some see it as an opportunity to run continuously to improve their fitness whilst others enjoy it as a social opportunity.

The Daily Mile also provides a rare opportunity in a busy timetable for staff to chat with pupils. Some staff have reported that it gives pupils the chance to ‘get things off their chest’ or share how they are feeling, when they might not be willing to do so in a classroom environment, as conversations whilst walking/jogging do not take place face to face.

For one of our Year 4 pupils, The Daily Mile has been a welcome addition to the daily timetable. Usually a reluctant participant in PE lessons and someone who does not want to engage in competitive experiences, this SEN pupil looks forward to participating in The Daily Mile. His teacher explains:

“He uses it daily at break and lunch to drive around in his racing car or spaceship.  He asks everyday about when we will do The Daily Mile. It lifts his spirits; it is a time when he is allowed to drive in class time for an extended period. He also uses the time to spend with friends and will interact with them during his driving.  As a child who finds PE rules and integration difficult, The Daily Mile allows him time to be part of the class and take part in a physical activity successfully and without reminders or requests to change what he is doing.”

A launch event was organised following donations from our school governing body and our The Daily Mile Coordinator, Alex Varran. Ben Smith from The 401 Challenge was invited to speak to the children and run with them to officially launch the new track. The Daily Mile is a key aspect of our school focus ‘Be Active, Be Healthy, Be Mentally Strong’ and Ben’s message successfully endorsed this.

Using the Laps to Lapland resource, we noticed how a visual record with an end goal can help to motivate pupils and staff, especially those who are not always providing the requisite 3 opportunities per week.  Laps to Lapland helped show us a way of recording as a class, but without it being an onerous task. We are planning to establish a school challenge for 2020, perhaps linked to the Olympics.



Cliff Lane Primary School
“A great ‘brain break’ and gives children the opportunity to revitalise ready for learning”

Fact File

Where we’re based: Suffolk, England

Roll: 404

Our Daily Mile Story

Rosie Lloyd is the PE and Health Coordinator at Cliff Lane Primary School and tells us about their experience of The Daily Mile.

“We’ve been doing The Daily Mile for about three years now and although we do have a field at the school, we tend to utilise the playground for The Daily Mile, just for practicality and better use of resources.

I wouldn’t say we experienced barriers as such when we introduced The Daily Mile…maybe a little reluctance initially, with teachers thinking it might be onerous or hard to fit in, but once they realised the benefits and how easy it is to fit into the working day, it’s really not viewed that way at all now.

Also, we make it ‘free flow’ so teachers can fit it in whenever it suits them best. So, some do this straight after lunch, some just before assemblies and sometimes it can just be utilised whenever the class is ‘jittery’ or unfocused.

There are many benefits for doing The Daily Mile, such as the children are more focused once they’ve done it, they enjoy being outside, their behaviour is improved and it’s a great way to engage those pupils who aren’t usually very active or don’t come to any of the after-school clubs.

When the children come back in they are definitely ready to work again – and teachers can use it to their benefit if something isn’t working well, they can use it to re-focus the class. They literally down tools, get the children out, everyone burns off some energy and they come back to the task in hand, refreshed and ready to learn again.

We also encourage the children to beat their own lap count, so it’s not a ‘time challenge’ as such, but some of the children like trying to beat their own records, so if they want to record this we encourage it, but it’s certainly not mandatory.

The teachers also find that The Daily Mile is a great way to get to know their pupils and although often at the start of a year it can be a struggle whilst they are learning about individual pupils, they generally find that this time is ideal to find out more and connect with them outside of the classroom environment.

We view The Daily Mile as equally as important now as we did when we started it three years ago and every now and again we may have to give it a word of encouragement at staff meetings, this is normally when the weather hits a bad spell, it’s just a natural lull, and it only takes a gentle reminder for teachers to pick it up and like I said on the whole it’s warmly received.

Although we don’t link The Daily Mile directly to the curriculum, we do a lot of work around health and activity so we drop it in whenever we can. We haven’t been able to include or extend The Daily Mile to parents and the community although we would like to visit this in the future. We are big fans of The Daily Mile here at Cliff Lane Primary and will definitely keep on doing it for the foreseeable future.”

Quotes from pupils and staff

“I enjoy The Daily Mile because it is a good opportunity to go out and get some fresh air. It also gives me a chance to get exercise”

– Year 5 Pupil

” I love The Daily Mile because it gets your muscles moving and gets you fit!”

– Year 3 Pupil

“The children love The Daily Mile and it gives them a good chance to take part in physical exercise. It’s also a great ‘brain break’ and gives children the opportunity to revitalise ready for learning”

– Miss Emma McErlain-Naylor and Miss Sleighthome, Year 6 Teachers