Lifestyle Education for Activity Program (LEAP)

University of South Carolina


The Lifestyle Education for Activity Project (LEAP) is a whole school intervention designed to increase physical activity in girls and give them the skills to become and remain physically active. LEAP is designed to support physical activity in high school girls and focuses on changing both instructional practices and the environment. Using a coordinated school health program approach, a variety of areas are addressed including, physical education classes, the school environment, health education, school health services, faculty and staff wellness, and the community and family environment. LEAP looks different in different schools, as it is a process that helps schools to develop a program that is tailored to their needs and goals.

Target Behavior: Physical Activity

Intervention Type: Direct Education, PSE Change

Intervention Reach and Adoption

The primary target audience of LEAP is high school girls. The program also includes components targeted towards parents and school staff. LEAP is a school-based intervention that also includes community linkages to opportunities for girls to be physically active outside of school. It has been tested in urban, suburban, and rural areas.

Setting: School

Target Audience: High School, Parents/Mothers/Fathers, Other: School Staff

Race/Ethnicity: All

Intervention Components

LEAP is based on the Coordinated School Health Program and consists of a variety of components, including:

  • Modifying physical education classes to meet the needs of girls
  • Including behavioral skills for physical activity in health education classes
  • Promoting faculty/staff wellness and physical activity
  • Involving School Health Services and the entire school environment in promoting physical activity
  • Using family and community resources to increase physical activity outside of school

The program is coordinated by a LEAP team, which consists of individuals representing a variety of areas of the school community, using the ASAP approach:

  • Assess the school instruction and environment
  • Select the focus for change
  • Act on the Plan

Intervention Materials

LEAP does not have set curricula for addressing the program components. Because every school is different, the LEAP team works together to determine what will work best for their school. Resources to assist schools in developing and implementing LEAP can be found here:

Intervention Costs

Cost information coming soon.

Evidence Summary

LEAP is an evidence-based intervention that has been tested using a group randomized control trial design and has shown higher levels of vigorous physical activity in girls in intervention compared to control schools, as well as high implementation compared to low implementation and control schools. Multiple peer-reviewed publications have resulted from the trial.

  •  At follow-up, a higher percentage of girls in LEAP intervention schools reported vigorous physical activity during an average of one or more 30-minute time blocks during a three-day period compared to girls in control schools (45% vs 36%).
  • A higher percentage of girls in high-implementing schools reported vigorous physical activity during an average of one or more 30-minute time blocks during a three-day period compared to girls in low-implementing and control schools (48, 40, and 36% respectively).
  • High-implementing schools reported significantly higher organizational level practices for two of the nine LEAP essential elements (having a physical activity team and having a faculty-staff health promotion program) than low-implementing and control schools.

Additional Publications:

Classification: Evidence-based

Evaluation Indicators

Based on the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework, the following outcome indicators can be used to evaluate intervention progress and success.

Readiness and Capacity – Short Term (ST) Changes – Medium Term (MT) Effectiveness and Maintenance – Long Term (LT) Population Results (R)
Individual ST3 MT3 LT3
Environmental Settings ST5, ST6, ST7 MT6 LT6LT8, LT9, LT10, LT11
Sectors of Influence

Evaluation Materials

A variety of evaluation instruments were used in the group randomized control trial of LEAP.

Process Evaluation Instruments:

  • Record Review – 35-item instrument used to review documentation by LEAP intervention staff on areas such as evidence for all 16 LEAP essential elements, having adequate budget and space for PE, school grounds having physical activity facilities available, and recognition of PE program.
  • Direct Observation Checklist – 25-item observational tool assessing areas such as seven essential elements specific to PE, messages promoting physical activity, inclusion of warm-up activities in PE, and reinforcing out-of-class physical activity for girls.
  • LEAP Criteria – instruments used to assess all 16 LEAP essential elements based on staff records, observations, and interactions with intervention schools at the end of each academic year.

Organizational Assessment Instrument:

  • Organizational Assessment Interview – 22-item interview conducted with a school administrator to assess organizational-level components of LEAP, along with events and activities that could affect project outcomes. The interviews lasted 10-15 minutes.

Participant Outcome Instruments:

Additional Information

Website: The LEAP website ( includes information and resources to help develop and implement a LEAP program.

Contact Person:
USC Children’s Physical Activity Research Group
921 Assembly Street
Suite 212
Columbia, SC 29208
Phone: (803) 777-3362