The SLOfit team continues to build its knowledge and expertise upon its vast experience participating and leading complex research studies.
The common thread found within each of these research projects is an ability of the SLOfit research team to receive and reciprocate its knowledge on how physical activity, physical fitness and maintaining an active lifestyle can affect overall health, prevent disease and increase everyone’s quality of life.
1) Enjoyable MVPA (2020-2022): Supporting teachers to maximize enjoyable MVPA minutes in children and youth
Project Enjoyable MVPA is aiming to develop skill-based games and exercises for 11-14 year old schoolchildren to be used in physical education classes and recess. To have beneficial effects also for health, the games must have at least moderate level intensity. As overweight and obesity are great concerns all over the world, the interventions should start at relatively early age and reach to the maximum number of children. Therefore, the school environment was chosen as the main target. To support the new-skill based PE curricula, the games and exercises are targeted to different skills for developing basic movement skills.
During the project different games and exercises will be merged to 10 minute blocks and tested objectively for moderate to vigorous physical activity, so the teacher or sport coach, can plan the lesson easily for target skill and be sure that it will be done at sufficient intensity by the children. Teachers and children will also be involved in the process, as their feedback is critical. One aspect of choosing the game is how children rate them. To involve all children, the action must be fun. Therefore, we aim for the exercises and games to be enjoyable for children and therefore support their activity during the class.
The exercises and games will also be filmed, so the PE teachers can easily understand the material. Supportive written material will also be included to highlight the importance of physical activity and health in children and adolescents.
2) FitBack (2019-2022)
The FitBack project was funded by the European Commission as part of its Erasmus+ Sport Collaborative Partnership 2020. Its mandate is to advocate for, and provide tools that will allow examination of population health trends, the effects of national fitness policies and interventions on child health at the local, regional, national and European level. FitBack enables the prediction of future trends in population health by relating health risk to physical fitness status. The FitBack network has been developed in collaboration with 10 European partners who have established, systematic physical fitness assessment monitoring systems in children and adolescents. This network and research is coordinated by the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Sport, Slovenia.
The FitBack network welcomes new researchers and research groups from around the world. It can offer European expertise and support on all aspects of establishing your own methods of physical fitness monitoring in children and adolescents. For example, FitBack provides fitness monitoring tools for parents, teachers and children, organises regular meetings, workshops on current topics of interest, provides networking opportunities to interested stakeholders (like conferences), maintains links to European databases on physical fitness and other resources, educational materials, and provides best-practice descriptions on how to maximize one’s fitness. FitBack provides collaboration on fitness data analysis and counselling to new members on how to establish their own fitness monitoring system.
1. Children, adolescents, parents, teachers, physicians and coaches. A FitBack tool provides feedback on the selected Alpha fitness tests compared to European reference values and related health risk.
2. Policy makers at the local, regional and national level. Key actors can use resources online to aid in establishing their own physical fitness assessment protocols for testing and monitoring the health-risk of children and adolescents in their communities.
FOR MORE DETAILED INFORMATION ON THE FITBACK PROJECT, PLEASE VISIT THE ONLINE FITBACK PORTAL HERE and Youtube.
3) EUPASMOS - European Union Physical Activity and Sports Monitoring System (2018-2020)
The aim of the Erasmus+ Sport granted EUPASMOS project was to implement a harmonized physical activity and sport monitoring system, through the development of an integrated and shared methodological process that will provide comparable, valid and reliable physical activity and sport participation data across EU Member States. This will support Member States, the European Commission, the WHO and other relevant organizations in the design, promotion, implementation and surveillance of effective, evidence-based HEPA and sport policies and strategies across Europe and different governance levels. Twelve Member States are actively participating in the project, namely Bulgaria, Cyprus, Finland, France, Italy, Hungary, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
4) CrowdHEALTH - Collective wisdom driving public health policies (2017-2020)
Project CrowdHEALTH, funded by the Horizon 2020 programme, introduced a new paradigm of Holistic Health Records (HHRs) that include a large number of health determinants. HHRs has been transformed into Social HHRs communities capturing the clinical, social and human context of the population segmentation and as a result the collective knowledge for different factors depending on the communities’ formulation criteria (e.g. demographics, diseases, lifestyle choices, physical activity, nutrition, etc). CrowdHEALTH delivered a secure integrated ICT platform that seamlessly integrated Big Data technologies to the health ecosystem stakeholders. CrowdHEALTH developed policy modelling techniques to facilitate the inclusion of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in policies and the correlation of these KPIs both with all health determinants captured in HHRs and with information from other domains towards a “health in all policies” approach. Our national physical fitness surveillance system SLOfit was one of the use cases where such solution were implemented.
5) LET’S ENJOY HEALTH (2014-2016)
In 2016, we finished with cross-sectional project called Let’s Enjoy Health, funded by the Norweagian funds group. The goal of this project was to evaluate a model of cooperation between schools, primary health care centres and local communities to ensure supporting environment for healthy lifestyle, focused on PA and nutrition. Within this project the health-care prevention teams in local communities have been established. These teams included schoolteachers, led by the PE teachers, school physicians and representatives of local communities. The main actions of this project were: Identification of health-risk students by SLOfit (school) and medical examinations (health-care); according to diagnosis of student‘s fitness, health and social characteristics individual objectives were set and also school doctor set individual recommendations for physical exercise and diet for each students.
Special treatment for health-risk students, which included:
- additional lessons of PE in school; individualization based on the doctor‘s recommendations,
- nutritional workshops for students and their parents in school,
- programmes within health-care system (such as):
- adopted physical exercise with kinesiologist for students with motor-control problems,
- workshop for obese students,
- workshop with kinesiologist or physiotherapist for students with spine problems.
Another part of project were actions for ensuring more PA to all children. The following actions were performed in this regard:
- cooperation of PE teacher and physician regarding the excusing from PE (Jurak & Kovač, 2011a; Jurak & Kovač, 2011b),
- substitutions of phsician’s excuse with physician’s recommendations for exercising,
- minute for health (in some schools students are engaged in short physical activity breaks in classrooms already for decades),
- physical activity recess (in many schools one longer recess is devoted for variety of physical activities; in some schools PE teachers prepare special individual programmes for obese students for this time),
- designing school environment for more spontaneous PA of students.
6) Blended learning
In May, June, and July 2023, the blended learning course called "Physical Activity and Health Promotion: Contexts of Practice" took place, marking a significant milestone in the realm of health education. The program, jointly organized by the University of Ljubljana, the University of Toledo, and the University of Porto within the ERASMUS+ framework, successfully equipped a cohort of professionals with the necessary tools to lead transformative health promotion initiatives in diverse communities. Throughout the two-month duration, students engaged in an intensive blended learning experience, combining online lectures with a 10-day in-person practical segment in Porto, Portugal. This unique format allowed them to delve into the physiological and psychological benefits of physical activity, while also gaining hands-on experience in implementing effective methodologies for promoting physical activity in various contexts such as schools, workplaces, and communities.
Tailored for healthcare providers, fitness experts and educators, the program fostered an inclusive environment, promoting interactive discussions, engaging case studies, and experiential learning activities. Students seized the opportunity to collaborate across borders and disciplines, fostering a rich and diverse learning experience. As the program concluded in July 2023, participants emerged equipped with a comprehensive skill set, enabling them to design, implement, and evaluate sustainable physical activity programs tailored to the diverse needs of different populations. Building on the success of its inaugural run, the program is set to return in 2024, providing another cohort of eager professionals the opportunity to be part of this transformative learning journey within the ERASMUS+ framework.