Creating higher physical activity levels by supporting competence, relatedness and autonomy in physical education

Regular physical activity might decrease the risk of chronic illnesses like obesity, Type-2 Diabetes or cardiovascular illnesses, long term. Children and adolescents who are physically active on a regular basis are more likely to be active as adults than those who fail to do so. Unfortunately, only a minority of children and adolescents in Germany meet the WHO’s recommendation of an average of one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. Especially children and adolescents in homes with a comparatively low socio-economic status and girls stand out in terms of a lack of physical activity.

With “CReActivity“, we aim to increase physical activity for 6th grade girls in Realschule for both time spent in PE and leisure time. To reach this goal the autonomy, sense of competence and social integration of students have to be supported. These three factors should increase the intrinsic motivation to be physically active and therefore lead to an independent long-term behavior of sufficient physical activity. Autonomy can for example be improved by always giving a reasoning as to why a certain exercise is important. Additionally, students should have a say in how specific exercises should be carried out and have the possibility to suggest and make changes. To improve the sense of competence there are many ways to experience success in exercises and games. Furthermore, the teacher’s feedback should always revolve around the intra-individual development of each student. Social integration is reached through consistent rituals and by including friends and families outside of PE. PE teachers of participating classes not only receive a compact individual introduction into the intervention program but also well developed and tested lesson plans for 48 double lessons that are curriculum oriented while also covering the three factors.

In order to properly evaluate the effects of these planned lessons on physical activity, starting in the school year of 2018/19 nine classes will follow the CReActivity lesson plan. Over the course of the year the physical activity of the participating students will be tested and compared three times with the data of a similarly sized control group of students participating in regular PE lessons. To spot any differences in physical activity there will also be questionnaires regarding the support and satisfaction of basic needs. Also, the events of both intervention and control group will be captured through systematic observations and interviews. Conclusively, this project not only aims to increase physical activity among 6th graders but also uncover the mechanisms leading to this increase.


  • Bachner, Joachim; Sturm, David J.; Demetriou, Yolanda: Accelerometer-Measured Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior Levels and Patterns in Female Sixth Graders: The CReActivity Project. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18 (1), 2021, 32 more… Full text ( DOI )
  • Renninger, Denise; Sturm, David J.; Krieger, Claus; Demetriou, Yolanda: Förderung der körperlichen Aktivität von Mädchen im Sportunterricht. German Journal of Exercise and Sport Research, 2021 more… Full text ( DOI )
  • Sturm, David J.; Bachner, Joachim; Renninger, Denise; Haug, Stephan; Demetriou, Yolanda: A Cluster Randomized Trial to Evaluate Need-Supportive Teaching in Physical Education on Physical Activity of Sixth-Grade Girls: A Mixed Method Study. Psychology of Sport and Exercise 54, 2021, 101902 more… Full text ( DOI )


  • Bachner, Joachim; Sturm, David J.; García-Massó, Xavier; Molina-García, Javier; Demetriou, Yolanda: Physical Activity-Related Profiles of Female Sixth-Graders Regarding Motivational Psychosocial Variables: A Cluster Analysis Within the CReActivity Project. Frontiers in Psychology 11, 2020 more… Full text ( DOI )
  • Bachner, Joachim; Sturm, David J.; Haug, Stephan; Demetriou, Yolanda: Multi-level validation of the German physical activity self-efficacy scale in a sample of female sixth-graders. BMC Public Health 20 (1), 2020 more… Full text ( DOI )
  • Sturm, David J.; Bachner, Joachim; Haug, Stephan; Demetriou, Yolanda: The German Basic Psychological Needs Satisfaction in Physical Education Scale: Adaption and Multilevel Validation in a Sample of Sixth-Grade Girls. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17 (5), 2020, 1554 more… Full text ( DOI )
  • Sturm, David J.; Kelso, Anne; Kobel, Susanne; Demetriou, Yolanda: Physical activity levels and sedentary time during school hours of 6th-grade girls in Germany. Journal of Public Health, 2020 more… Full text ( DOI )


  • Demetriou, Yolanda; Bachner, Joachim: A school-based intervention based on self-determination theory to promote girls' physical activity: study protocol of the CReActivity cluster randomised controlled trial. BMC Public Health 19 (1), 2019 more… Full text ( DOI )
  • Sturm, David J.; Bachner, Joachim; Demetriou, Yolanda: Physical activity levels of German adolescent girls from the CReActivity project. Abstract book for the ISBNPA 2019 Annual Meeting in Prague, 2019, 1113 more…