Physical inactivity in adolescence has been linked to a vast array of physical and mental health problems that extend across the lifespan. Canadian adolescents are required to undertake regular physical education as part of their school curriculum, guided by physical education teachers. However, more than half of adolescents are considered not sufficiently active to meet international guidelines for optimal growth and development. In workplace settings, “transformational leadership” is exemplified by business leaders whose behaviours and interactions inspire employees to reach new heights of work performance and self confidence. Transformational leaders inspire, energize and intellectually stimulate their followers. Training programs in business and military settings have also shown that people in leadership positions can successfully acquire and develop these behaviours.
Exercise and health psychologist Dr. Mark Beauchamp is taking this leadership model out of the workplace and applying it to school physical education and health promotion settings. He’s studying whether training physical education teachers in transformational leadership can positively affect the attitudes and behaviours of their students around adopting and maintaining physical activity. If this approach is proved effective, this research could be used to help develop evidence-based initiatives (across Canada and beyond) that inspire a greater proportion of adolescents to become and stay physically active.