Encouraging Physical Activity in Schools: Lessons from R=MC^2 Model

Schools play a crucial role in promoting physical activity among youth, but implementing such programs can be challenging. The study “Using the R = MC2 heuristic to understand barriers to and facilitators of implementing school-based physical activity opportunities” sheds light on this process, using a unique approach to dissect the complexities involved.

Understanding Readiness through R=MC2

The R=MC2 model, where Readiness equals the product of Motivation and Capacity (both general and innovation-specific), serves as a foundation to understand the implementation of physical activity programs in schools. This model emphasizes that readiness isn’t static; it evolves and applies at various levels, and can be developed over time.

Key Facilitators and Barriers

  1. Internal and External Relationships: The presence of strong internal and external relationships significantly aids implementation. When school staff, district employees, and community stakeholders collaborate, they create a robust support system for physical activity programs.
  2. Competing Priorities: Physical activity often competes with other school priorities, such as academic testing. This competition for time and resources is a significant barrier, highlighting the need for strategic prioritization and scheduling.
  3. Visible Benefits: Seeing the tangible benefits of physical activity programs motivates staff toward implementation. When teachers observe improvements in student behavior and academic performance, their commitment to these programs strengthens.
  4. Staff Buy-in: Critical to the process is the buy-in from staff. Implementation is more successful when there is collective support from teachers and administrators.

Implications for Evaluation Practice

Evaluators must consider these factors when assessing the implementation of physical activity programs. Relationships, prioritization, observable benefits, and staff buy-in are key areas to focus on. Understanding the dynamics of these factors can help in developing strategies to enhance the effectiveness of such programs.

Building and Adapting Readiness

The study underscores the dynamic nature of readiness. Schools must continually develop their general and innovation-specific capacities and keep the staff motivated. By adapting to changing circumstances and learning from ongoing experiences, schools can enhance their readiness to implement and sustain physical activity programs effectively.


Implementing physical activity programs in schools is a multifaceted challenge, but understanding and leveraging the factors of readiness can make a significant difference. The R=MC2 model offers a valuable framework for schools to evaluate and improve their readiness, ultimately leading to more successful implementation of physical activity programs.

For more details on the study and its findings, read the full article here.

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