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Dr Narelle Eather

Lecturer

School of Education (Education)

A concrete foundation for fitness

Dr Narelle Eather believes encouraging children to be more active is easier than people think - it's all about giving them the right tools.

Dr Narelle Eather

Despite pessimistic talk of a generation of computer-obsessed kids doomed to grow up unfit and unhealthy, Eather is encouraged by the results of a physical activity intervention program she delivered to primary school students during her PhD.

The physical education lecturer, current Australian OzTag representative, former national league netball player and mother of two young girls, completed her PhD project aligned with the Faculty of Education and Arts' Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition (PAN) in 2014.

Titled Fit 4 Fun, Eather was prompted to create the program during her time as a secondary school teacher when she observed her students' lack of confidence and competence in physical skills.

The curriculum program is targeted at primary school children in years five and six and is designed to improve their skills, knowledge and attitudes towards physical activity – and boost their fitness levels.

"With a lot of the children I was teaching, I found that fundamental movement skills were poor and fitness levels were low. This not only impacted their physical abilities but also their confidence, and their social and emotional health. This was largely because of inadequate sport and physical education programs in primary schools," explained Eather. "Meaning, the children were not developing the skills and attitudes necessary for a lifelong commitment to good health."

Watching how much joy the young girls express when they interact with their fathers in the program is just one of many of the benefits of being involved in this fantastic initiative.

"Studies have shown that attitudes and behaviour developed in primary school carry through to adolescence and adulthood, which is why I decided to target my program at younger children – so we are affecting change before those attitudes are cemented.

"During the study, I found that attitudes towards physical activity participation had changed greatly and fitness had improved significantly in just eight weeks, which suggests to me that small but specific changes in the school and home environment can lead to very important positive health outcomes for children."

Eather also recognised that primary school teachers were often ill-equipped to deliver quality physical activity programs, either because of a lack of pre-service training in this area, confidence to deliver such programs or the absence of relevant teaching aids. Consequently, one of the aims of her project was to build a resource that can be used by any classroom teacher.

Since 2009, Eather has not only focused on completing her PhD part-time, she is also Lead Investigator on the Cross Fit Teens Program: Improving health-related fitness in adolescents, and is Chief Investigator on several research projects currently running through PAN, including Stand Up for Healthy Minds study: Evaluation of a multi-component intervention to reduce screen-time in adolescents; HIIT: The impact of high intensity interval training on physical and psycho-social outcomes in adolescents; and Dads And Daughters Exercising and Empowered (DADEE):  Engaging fathers to improve physical activity levels and social-emotional well-being in their daughters.

Supported by the Port Waratah Coal Services Community Investment and Partnership Program, DADEE is aimed at engaging fathers and daughters to help instil primary school aged girls with the skills needed for a healthy and productive life.

Research shows that more than 80 per cent of girls fail to meet physical activity recommendations and fewer than 10 per cent can adequately perform fundamental movement skills such as kicking and throwing – results that are significantly worse than for boys of the same age.

Conceived by Professor Phil Morgan, DADEE will be rolled out in 2015 by a team that includes Professor David Lubans, Ms Alyce Barnes and Eather.

"The DADEE program has created a fantastic opportunity to investigate and highlight the important and pivotal role that fathers play in the lives of their daughters – a role that is often overlooked or dismissed in today's hectic world," said Eather. "Watching how much joy the young girls express when they interact with their fathers in the program is just one of many of the benefits of being involved in this fantastic initiative."

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A concrete foundation for fitness - Dr Narelle Eather

A concrete foundation for fitness

Narelle Eather believes encouraging children to be more active is easier than people think - it's all about giving them the right tools.

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Career Summary

Biography

Narelle Eather completed her undergraduate degree in Human Movement and Health Education at the University of Sydney before obtaining her Masters of Education (Physical Education) through the University of New England and a PhD through the University of Newcastle. Narelle teaches and co-ordinates a range of health and physical education courses in both the primary and secondary teacher education courses at the undergraduate level at the University of Newcastle. The focus of Narelle's research is the promotion of physical activity and physical fitness among children and youth, and with the development and evaluation of theoretically driven interventions in the school setting. Narelle is an active researcher and has published in peer-reviewed international journals.

Research Expertise
Dr. Narelle Eather is an active member of the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition, is a lecturer in Health and Physical Education at the University of Newcastle and is currently working on several school-based and community-based research projects.

The focus of Narelle's research is the promotion of physical activity and physical fitness among children and youth, and with the development and evaluation of theoretically driven Health and Physical Education interventions in the school setting. More recently, Narelle’s research also includes the development of physical fitness and psychological health in adolescents, and in the development of health through family-based physical activity programs.

Teaching Expertise
Narelle Eather is a lecturer in Health and Physical Education at the University of Newcastle. Narelle has been lecturering at the university as both a full-time and part-time employee for the past 9 years and co-ordinates a number of Secondary and Primary Teacher Education Courses. Narelle is also the current Program Convenor for the Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary) / Bachelor of Health and Physical Education at the University of Newcastle. Narelle also has 10 years teaching experience in secondary schools as a PDHPE teacher, sport organiser and pastoral care leader. In this role Narelle specialised in teaching Senior PDHPE, Sport Leisure and Recreation and Sport Science, and also co-ordinated courses in Outdoor Education, Junior PDHPE and Gifted and Talented Physical Education. Narelle also taught in Primary Schools as both a generalist and PDHPE specialist prior to taking on a lecturing role at the University of Newcastle. Narelle has extensive experience in coaching and training children of all ages in a range of sports and physical activities. She also has extensive experience in the development of physical fitness for groups and individual of all ages and backgrounds. Course Co-ordination: Secondary EDUC1014 EDUC1016 EDUC4015 EDUC2057 Primary PUBH2030 EDUC2515 EDUC2514

Administrative Expertise
Narelle Eather is the current Program convenor for the Bachelor of Teaching (secondary) / Bachelor of Health and Physical Education and is an active member of the Teaching and Learning Committee, Secondary Management Group and Primary Management Gropups in the Faculty of Education and Arts at the University of Newcastle. She is also a representative of The School of Education on the FEDUA Teaching and Learning Committee.

Collaborations
I am currently working in collaboration with memebers of the Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition at the University of Newcastle on: 1) The Fit-4-Fun research project -Narelle Eather, Prof. Philip Morgan & A/Prof. David Lubans 2) Cross Fit Teens - Narelle Eather, A/Prof. David Lubans,Prof. Philip Morgan 3) PLUNGE - Dr. Andrew Miller, A/Prof. David Lubans, Dr. Erin Christensen, Dr Wendy Miller, Narelle Eather 4) TERN - Dr. Erin Christensen, Suzanne McQueen, Narelle Eather, Tracey Kelty 5) Switch of for Healthy Minds - A/Prof.David Lubans, Prof.Ron Plotnikoff, Prof.Philip Morgan, Narelle Eather, Mark Babic, Dr. Louisa Peralta, Prof. Amanda Baker, Dr. Jeffery SKinner. 6) DADEE- Dads and Daughters Enjoying Exercise - A/Prof.David Lubans, Prof.Philip Morgan, Narelle Eather, Alyce Cook.


Qualifications

  • PhD, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Education, University of Sydney
  • Master of Education (Physical Education), University of New England

Keywords

  • Children & Youth
  • Coaching
  • Curriculum Development
  • Health & Physical Education (Primary)
  • Health & Physical Education (Secondary)
  • Physical Activity
  • Physical Fitness
  • Physical Fitness
  • School-based interventions
  • Sport Education
  • Sports Coaching
  • Teaching and Learning in PDHPE

Fields of Research

CodeDescriptionPercentage
111712Health Promotion40
130105Primary Education (excl. Maori)40
130210Physical Education and Development Curriculum and Pedagogy20

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

DatesTitleOrganisation / Department
1/01/2015 - LecturerUniversity of Newcastle
School of Education
Australia
23/02/2009 - 19/06/2009LecturerUniversity of Newcastle
School of Education
Australia
21/01/2008 - 14/12/2008LecturerUniversity of Newcastle
School of Education
Australia
19/02/2007 - 30/06/2007Casual AcademicUniversity of Newcastle
School of Education
Australia

Academic appointment

DatesTitleOrganisation / Department
1/01/2012 - Program Convenor Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary) / Bachelor of Health and Physical EducationUniversity of Newcastle
Australia

Professional appointment

DatesTitleOrganisation / Department
1/01/1997 - 1/01/2008PDHPE teacherNSW Department of Education and Communities

Awards

Recognition

YearAward
2014Faculty of Education and Arts RHD Publication Prize 2014
Unknown
2013Best Published Paper Award 2013
Unknown
2012Best Published Paper Award 2012
Unknown
20113min Thesis Competition
Unknown
2011Vice Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence
Unknown
1996Dean's List of Scholars
The University of Sydney

Research Award

YearAward
2011Research Award
Sports Medicine Australia
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Journal article (8 outputs)

YearCitationAltmetricsLink
2015Babic MJ, Morgan PJ, Plotnikoff RC, Lonsdale C, Eather N, Skinner G, et al., 'Rationale and study protocol for 'Switch-off 4 Healthy Minds' (S4HM): A cluster randomized controlled trial to reduce recreational screen time in adolescents', Contemporary Clinical Trials, 40 150-158 (2015)

Introduction: Excessive recreational screen time (i.e., screen use for entertainment) is a global public health issue associated with adverse mental and physical health outcomes. Considering the growing popularity of screen-based recreation in adolescents, there is a need to identify effective strategies for reducing screen time among adolescents. The aim of this paper is to report the rationale and study protocol for the 'Switch-off 4 Healthy Minds' (S4HM) study, an intervention designed to reduce recreational screen time among adolescents. Methods: The S4HM intervention will be evaluated using a cluster randomized controlled trial in eight secondary schools (. N=. 322 students) in New South Wales, Australia. The 6-month multi-component intervention will encourage adolescents to manage their recreational screen time using a range of evidence-based strategies. The intervention is grounded in Self-Determination Theory (SDT) and includes the following components: an interactive seminar for students, eHealth messaging, behavioral contract and parental newsletters. All outcomes will be assessed at baseline and at 6-months (i.e., immediate post-test). The primary outcome is recreational screen time measured by the Adolescent Sedentary Activity Questionnaire (ASAQ). Secondary outcomes include: self-reported psychological well-being, psychological distress, global physical self-concept, resilience, pathological video gaming and aggression, and objectively measured physical activity (accelerometry) and body mass index (BMI). Hypothesized mediators of behavior change will also be explored. Discussion: The S4HM study will involve the evaluation of an innovative, theory-driven, multi-component intervention that targets students and their parents and is designed to reduce recreational screen time in adolescents. The intervention has been designed for scalability and dissemination across Australian secondary schools.

DOI10.1016/j.cct.2014.12.001
Co-authorsGeoff Skinner, Ron Plotnikoff, David Lubans, Amanda Baker, Philip Morgan
2015Miller A, Christensen EM, Eather N, Sproule J, Annis-Brown L, Lubans DR, 'The PLUNGE randomized controlled trial: evaluation of a games-based physical activity professional learning program in primary school physical education.', Prev Med, 74 1-8 (2015)
DOI10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.02.002Author URL
Co-authorsAndrew Miller, David Lubans
2014Smith JJ, Eather N, Morgan PJ, Plotnikoff RC, Faigenbaum AD, Lubans DR, 'The health benefits of muscular fitness for children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis.', Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 44 1209-1223 (2014) [C1]
DOI10.1007/s40279-014-0196-4
CitationsScopus - 2Web of Science - 3
Co-authorsPhilip Morgan, David Lubans, Ron Plotnikoff
2013Eather N, Morgan PJ, Lubans DR, 'Improving the fitness and physical activity levels of primary school children: Results of the Fit-4-Fun group randomized controlled trial', Preventive Medicine, 56 12-19 (2013) [C1]

Objective: To evaluate the impact of a multi-component school-based physical activity intervention (Fit-4-Fun) on health-related fitness and objectively measured physical activity in primary school children. Methods: Four Hunter primary schools were recruited in April, 2011 and randomized by school into treatment or control conditions. Participants included 213 children (mean age=10.72years±0.6; 52.2% female) with the treatment group (n=118) completing the 8-week Fit-4-Fun Program. Participants were assessed at baseline and 6-month follow-up, with a 91% retention rate. Cardio-respiratory fitness (CRF) (20m shuttle run) was the primary outcome, and secondary outcomes included body composition (BMI, BMIZ), muscular fitness (7-stage sit-up test, push-up test, basketball throw test, Standing Jump), flexibility (sit and reach) and physical activity (7days pedometry). Results: After 6-months, significant treatment effects were found for CRF (adjusted mean difference, 1.14 levels, p<0.001), body composition (BMI mean, -0.96kg/m2, p<0.001 and BMI z-score mean -0.47 z-scores, p<0.001), flexibility (sit and reach mean, 1.52cm, p=0.0013), muscular fitness (sit-ups) (mean 0.62 stages, p=0.003) and physical activity (mean, 3253 steps/day, p<0.001). There were no group by time effects for the other muscular fitness measures. Conclusions: A primary school-based intervention focusing on fitness education significantly improved health-related fitness and physical activity levels in children. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.

DOI10.1016/j.ypmed.2012.10.019
CitationsScopus - 15Web of Science - 10
Co-authorsDavid Lubans, Philip Morgan
2013Eather N, Morgan PJ, Lubans DR, 'Social support from teachers mediates physical activity behavior change in children participating in the Fit-4-Fun intervention', International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 10 (2013) [C1]
DOI10.1186/1479-5868-10-68Author URL
CitationsScopus - 6Web of Science - 1
Co-authorsDavid Lubans, Philip Morgan
2013Eather N, Morgan PJ, Lubans DR, 'Feasibility and preliminary efficacy of the Fit4Fun intervention for improving physical fitness in a sample of primary school children: a pilot study', PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND SPORT PEDAGOGY, 18 389-411 (2013) [C1]
DOI10.1080/17408989.2012.690375Author URL
CitationsScopus - 2Web of Science - 2
Co-authorsDavid Lubans, Philip Morgan
2011Eather N, Morgan PJ, Lubans DR, 'Improving health-related fitness in children: The Fit-4-Fun randomized controlled trial study protocol', BMC Public Health, 11 902 (2011) [C3]
DOI10.1186/1471-2458-11-902
Co-authorsDavid Lubans, Philip Morgan
2011Lubans DR, Morgan PJ, Callister R, Plotnikoff RC, Eather N, Riley N, Smith CJ, 'Test-retest reliability of a battery of field-based health-related fitness measures for adolescents', Journal of Sports Sciences, 29 685-693 (2011) [C1]
DOI10.1080/02640414.2010.551215
CitationsScopus - 14Web of Science - 13
Co-authorsDavid Lubans, Philip Morgan, Robin Callister, Ron Plotnikoff, Nicholas Riley
Show 5 more journal articles

Conference (4 outputs)

YearCitationAltmetricsLink
2012Eather N, Morgan PJ, Lubans DR, 'Improving health-related fitness in children: The Fit-4-Fun randomized controlled trial', Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Sydney, Australia (2012) [E3]
CitationsScopus - 4Web of Science - 3
Co-authorsDavid Lubans, Philip Morgan
2011Eather N, Morgan PJ, 'The Fit 4 Fun Program: promoting fitness and health in primary school children', 2011 Annual Meeting of the International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA) eProceedings, Melbourne, VIC (2011) [E3]
Co-authorsPhilip Morgan
2010Eather A, Morgan PJ, 'The Fit 4 Fun Program: A curriculum-based approach to promoting health-related fitness in primary school children', Obesity Research and Clinical Practice, Sydney, NSW (2010) [E3]
Co-authorsPhilip Morgan
2009Eather N, Morgan PJ, Lubans DR, 'Rationale and intervention description of a health-related fitness program for primary school children.' (2009) [E3]
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants9
Total funding$407,313

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20151 grants / $1,000

2015 Asics Sports Medicine Australia Conference, Gold Coats, 21-24 October 2015$1,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Education and Arts

Funding bodyUniversity of Newcastle - Faculty of Education and Arts
Project TeamDoctor Narelle Eather
SchemeTravel Grant
RoleLead
Funding Start2015
Funding Finish2015
GNoG1500877
Type Of FundingInternal
CategoryINTE
UONY

20145 grants / $399,313

Engaging dads and daughters to increase physical activity and social and emotional well-being in pre-adolescent girls: The DADEE (Dads And Daughters Exercising and Empowered) program$327,813

Funding body: Port Waratah Coal Services Limited

Funding bodyPort Waratah Coal Services Limited
Project TeamProfessor Philip Morgan, Professor David Lubans, Mrs Alyce Barnes, Doctor Narelle Eather, Doctor Myles Young
SchemeCommunity Investment and Partnership Program
RoleInvestigator
Funding Start2014
Funding Finish2014
GNoG1401411
Type Of FundingGrant - Aust Non Government
Category3AFG
UONY

Engaging fathers to improve physical activity levels and social-emotional well-being in their daughters: The DADEE (Dads And Daughters Enjoying Exercise) study$25,000

Funding body: Hunter Medical Research Institute

Funding bodyHunter Medical Research Institute
Project TeamProfessor Philip Morgan, Professor David Lubans, Doctor Narelle Eather, Mrs Alyce Barnes
SchemeYouth Research Project Grant
RoleInvestigator
Funding Start2014
Funding Finish2014
GNoG1301335
Type Of FundingGrant - Aust Non Government
Category3AFG
UONY

Evaluation of a multi-component intervention to reduce screen-time in adolescents: The ‘Stand Up for Healthy Minds’ study$25,000

Funding body: Hunter Medical Research Institute

Funding bodyHunter Medical Research Institute
Project TeamProfessor David Lubans, Professor Ronald Plotnikoff, Professor Philip Morgan, Professor Amanda Baker, Doctor Geoffrey Skinner, Doctor Narelle Eather
SchemeProject Grant
RoleInvestigator
Funding Start2014
Funding Finish2014
GNoG1301432
Type Of FundingGrant - Aust Non Government
Category3AFG
UONY

The impact of high intensity interval training on physical and psycho-social outcomes in low-active adolescents: A randomised controlled trial$20,000

Funding body: Hunter Medical Research Institute

Funding bodyHunter Medical Research Institute
Project TeamProfessor David Lubans, Professor Ronald Plotnikoff, Doctor Narelle Eather
SchemeProject Grant
RoleInvestigator
Funding Start2014
Funding Finish2014
GNoG1500311
Type Of FundingGrant - Aust Non Government
Category3AFG
UONY

AISEP World Congress 2014, Auckland New Zealand, 10-13 February 2013$1,500

Funding body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Education and Arts

Funding bodyUniversity of Newcastle - Faculty of Education and Arts
Project TeamDoctor Narelle Eather
SchemeTravel Grant
RoleLead
Funding Start2014
Funding Finish2014
GNoG1301241
Type Of FundingInternal
CategoryINTE
UONY

20131 grants / $3,000

The effects of a resistance training program (Cross-Fit Teens) on physiological and psychological health in adolescents: A randomized controlled trial.$3,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding bodyUniversity of Newcastle
Project TeamDoctor Narelle Eather
SchemeNew Staff Grant
RoleLead
Funding Start2013
Funding Finish2013
GNoG1300089
Type Of FundingInternal
CategoryINTE
UONY

20111 grants / $2,000

The Fit-4-Fun Program: promoting fitness and health in primary school children$2,000

Funding body: Sports Medicine Australia

Funding bodySports Medicine Australia
Project TeamProfessor Philip Morgan, Professor David Lubans, Doctor Narelle Eather
SchemeResearch Grant
RoleInvestigator
Funding Start2011
Funding Finish2011
GNoG1100582
Type Of FundingGrant - Aust Non Government
Category3AFG
UONY

20101 grants / $2,000

The Fit-4-Fun RCT: Promoting health and physical fitness in primary school children.$2,000

Funding body: Sports Medicine Austrlaia

Funding bodySports Medicine Austrlaia
Project Team
SchemePilot Research Grant
RoleLead
Funding Start2010
Funding Finish2011
GNo
Type Of FundingGrant - Aust Non Government
Category3AFG
UONY
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News

Narelle Eather talks to NBN News about tackling teen fitness

Newcastle researchers tackle teen fitness

June 23, 2015

Watch Dr Narelle Eather's interview with NBN News on the University of Newcastle's Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition CrossFit program for teens and how it is benefiting their health and study habits.

Dr Narelle Eather

Position

Lecturer
Physical Education
School of Education
Faculty of Education and Arts

Focus area

Education

Contact Details

Emailnarelle.eather@newcastle.edu.au
Phone(02) 4921 6232

Office

RoomHPE310
BuildingHealth and Physical Education HPE
LocationCallaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308
Australia
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