Advances in Physical Education
2012. Vol.2, No.1, 22-27
Published Online February 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Pogo Stick Programs Provide Physical and
Psychological Benefits to Children
Jo M. Welch, Nichelle B. Hubley, Angela J. Stewart
Department of Kinesiology, School of Health and Human Performance, Dalhousie University,
Halifax, Canada
Received November 17th, 2011; revised December 20th, 2011; accepted December 30th, 2011
Novel methods of adding vigorous exercise to physical education classes or after school programs could
boost physical and psychological well-being in children. We explored the use of pogo stick classes in two
cohorts of 10 - 11 years old children. Both interventions consisted of two, one-hour sessions per week for
six weeks. Attendance at these after-school sessions was high (Study 1, 82%; Study 2, 95%). Study 1
tested the efficacy of a pogo class in sports-active children aged 10 - 11 years from a community adjacent
to a university. They were tested before and after the intervention for balance using a stabilometer, for leg
power using jump height, and for VO2max using the Leger 20 m shuttle run. Means of pre and post inter-
vention measures were compared using paired t-tests. Balance improved (p = 0.001) while VO2max and
leg power remained consistent. Study 2 tested the ability of pogo classes to improve self-esteem in girls
who did not participate in sports and resided in a low socio-economic urban area. Before and after the in-
tervention they completed the Harter Self-Perception Profile. Self-assessed scores in all six categories of
the Harter Profile increased, indicating that the pogo stick intervention elicited improved self-esteem in
the children. Results from these two pilot studies using pogo sticks in different cohorts of children indi-
cate that pogo-based programs can provide physical and mental health benefits.
Keywords: Pogo; Vigorous Physical Activity; Children; Self-Esteem
Most children in Canada (Colley et al., 2011) and the USA
(Troiano et al., 2008) do not participate in enough moderate to
vigorous physical activity (MVPA) to meet their national guide-
lines for health benefits. Furthermore, participation in MVPA by
children has declined in the past decade (Thompson, McHugh et al.,
2009). Meanwhile, the proportion of overweight and obese chil-
dren and young adults has climbed in parallel with this decline
in metabolic stimulation in both Canada (Janssen, Shields, Craig,
& Tremblay) and the USA (Belcher et al., 2010; Flegal, 2005).
More MVPA performed weekly would increase energy expen-
diture and could help to reverse the current epidemic of obesity.
The decline in MVPA is significantly greater in girls than boys
(Perry, Rosenblatt, & Wang, 2004), with girls spending an aver-
age of 30% less time exercising than their male counterparts
(Loucaides, Plotnikoff, & Bercovitz, 2007; Kelley, 1995). Vig-
orous exercise is particularly low in participation rates by chil-
dren, especially girls (Craig, Goldberg, & Dietz, 1996; Thomp-
son, Campagna et al., 2009). Further, the decline in participation
by the non-sports active children and children who are less able
to access community PA programs is of considerable concern.
Girls in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods typically have higher
BMIs than do girls from more affluent neighborhoods (Voor-
hees et al., 2009). Additionally, girls often prefer physical activi-
ties that are not similar to traditional team sports, such as bicy-
cling, dancing, rope-jumping, and active games (Sherwood et al.,
2003). Giving that enjoyment is the only consistent predictor of
physical activity levels in youth (DiLorenzo, Stucky-Ropp, Van-
der Wal, & Gotham, 1998), adding more opportunities to partici-
pate in physical activities that children and especially girls com-
monly view as fun is likely to increase the total weekly time
spent doing MVPA.
Self-perception and confidence may strongly influence parti-
cipation in physical activity (Craig et al., 1996). High self-esteem
is associated with increased well-being, social relationships, and
academic achievement (DiLorenzo et al., 1998); (Trzesniewski,
Donnellan, & Robins, 2003). Indeed, self-efficacy and the per-
ception of sport competence are among the most important cor-
relates of physical activity for female youth (Loucaides et al.,
2007). Youth who participate in sports report significantly higher
levels of perceived athletic competence, behavioral competence,
social competence and global self-worth (Donaldson & Ronan,
2006). Physical self-concept may result from perceptions of
sporting competence, enjoyment, and physical attractiveness
(Ommundsen & Vaglum, 1997). Successful physical activity
programs enhance self-esteem (Faulkner et al., 2007), which is
important in adolescents, who often experience drastic changes in
self-esteem (Biro, Striegel-Moore, Franko, Padgett, & Bean,
2006). On the other hand, physical inactivity is associated with
low self-esteem, early sexual activity, depression, and poor aca-
demic outcomes (Aarnio, Winter, Kujala, & Kaprio, 2002).
We had offered pogo sticking sessions to a local elementary
school in an upper middle class neighborhood and found that
the children were highly engaged in these sessions, which re-
sulted in a high level of exertion. However, approximately 10%
of the children, most often those with the highest weight to
height ratio, experienced difficulty in mastering the skill in-
volved and seemed more discouraged at their ineptness in view
of their classmates’ abilities. Based on these observations, we
hypothesized that an after school pogo stick program would be
acceptable to children and that the program would increase
several parameters of fitness in children. This study will be
referred to as Study 1. In addition, we hypothesized that a pogo
stick program adapted for physically inactive girls in a low
socioeconomic neighborhood would improve their self-esteem
and overall amount of physical activity. This study will be re-
ferred to as Study 2. Both studies were approved by a research
ethics committee at Dalhousie University. Informed written
consent was obtained from a parent or guardian of each subject
prior to baseline testing.
Methods: Study 1
Subjects were recruited for this study by posters at several
local elementary schools. They were eligible for inclusion if
they weighed 36 - 73 kg (80 - 160 lb), were 10 - 13 years of age,
were willing to wear a protective helmet and were free from
injury or illness. A Flybar Foam Master pogo stick was pro-
vided for each subject and each child provided his or her own
helmet and suitable footwear.
Study Desi gn
This study was a 6 week intervention using single subject
design. Pogo stick sessions one hour long were held after
school in a university gymnasium in the winter Monday and
Thursday for six consecutive weeks. The location was within
walking distance to 3 elementary schools.
Experimental Measurements
The height and weight of the participants were measured dur-
ing the baseline testing session using a stadiometer (Detecto,
Webb City, Missouri). Aerobic capacity was measured using
Leger’s 20 m shuttle run test (Leger, Mercier, Gadoury, & Lam-
bert, 1988). Balance was measured using a stabilometer (Lafay-
ette Instruments Co., Lafayette, Indiana) set to allow 12 degrees
of motion in either direction. After an initial trial to become
familiar with the mobile platform, each subject attempted to
keep the platform horizontal. Three consecutive trials of 20 se-
conds were performed; the time within each trial for which the
subject could remain within 12 degrees of horizontal was re-
corded and the mean of the time spent balanced for the three
trials was calculated. Leg power was determined by from the
jump height using a Vertec vertical jump tester (SENOH: Sports
Imports, Columbus, OH). Peak leg power was calculated from
the best of 3 squat jumps using the following equation (Sayers,
Harackiewicz, Harman, Frykman, & Rosenstein, 1999):
Peak Power (W) = 60.7 × jump height (cm) + 45.3 × body
mass (kg) – 2055.
Subjects also completed a questionnaire that asked how of-
ten and for how long they participated in sports, exercise, or
games that make them sweat, which activities these were,
whether these sports or physical activities took place during
school or after school. Sections of the questionnaire pertained
to their experience with activities requiring proficiency in
either balance or bouncing. Attendance was recorded at the
six weeks of pogo stick sessions, and a log kept of which
games or activities were played and requested each day. All
measurements made at baseline were repeated after the six
weeks of the pogo stick intervention.
Study Proced ures
The intervention was divided into a one week skill acquisi-
tion phase and a five week pogo activity phase. The skill acqui-
sition phase was designed to give the subjects individualized
attention while learning how to bounce on the pogo sticks. To
enable rapid mastery of pogo sticking, the subject to supervisor
ratio was 2:1 during these first two sessions. The final five
weeks of the program were designed to promote fun through a
wide variety of games and activities that progressed in level of
challenge. The children were encouraged to propose which
activities they would like to try while on pogo sticks and to
express which ones they wished to repeat. The researchers and
volunteers facilitated the sessions but did not participate on the
pogo sticks except for initial demonstrations.
Data Analysis
All analyses were performed with SPSS version 15.0. Pre-
and post-intervention measures were compared using a 2-way
analysis of variance with repeated measures with differences
accepted as significance at p 0.05. Due to the small sample
size, trends (0.1 > p > 0.05) were also reported. Data from the
questionnaire, including current physical activity level and prior
activities requiring proficiency in balance were coded as mod-
erate or vigorous physical activities based on published catego-
rizations (Ainsworth et al., 1993; Ainsworth et al., 2000) and
analyzed for relationships using the Pearson’s correlation test.
Results: Study 1
Nine healthy children (7 boys) aged 10 - 11 years volun-
teered to take part in this study. Children were recruited without
selection by sex. Subject characteristics are shown in Table 1.
The subjects’ attendance averaged 82%, including attendance
during two storm days when school was cancelled due to ad-
verse weather conditions. The means of the data for boys was
compared to that of the girls and it did not differ by visual or
statistical inspection. Therefore, data from boys and girls was
combined and analyzed together. Although the height of the
children increased following the six week intervention period (p
= 0.03), no other characteristic had changed significantly at the
post-intervention testing. A total of 13 sport-like activities were
tried, with 6 of these repeated due to multiple requests from
participants. These 6 activities were jump rope, high jump,
catch, basketball, dodgeball, and an obstacle course, some of
which were performed partially hands free. Two children suf-
fered injuries; one was a blister from a rub by knee pads worn
due to gripping the pogo stick while performing hands free, and
the other was from a fall which caused a sore wrist that was not
sufficiently sore to stop the child from continuing to participate
in that session.
Following the six week intervention, balance on the stabi-
lometer increased by 19% (p = 0.001). See Table 2. No other
fitness measure differed significantly from baseline measures.
Leg power was significantly correlated to total time currently
engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activities (r = 0.81, p
< 0.05). Relative VO2max was strongly correlated to time cur-
rently spent doing vigorous activity (r = 0.89, p < 0.01) and
correlated to total time spent in all moderate to vigorous physi-
cal activity (r = 0.73, p < 0.05). Neither prenor post-interven-
tion balance was correlated with time spent in physical activity
(r = 0.05).
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 23
Table 1.
Subject characteristics.
Characteristic Baseline
(mean ± SD)
(mean ± SD) p-value
n (boys, girls) 9 (7, 2) 9 (7, 2)
Age (y); (n) 10 (5); 11 (4) 10 (4); 11 (5)
Height (cm) 149.2 ± 7.7 150.8 ± 7.6 0.03
Weight (kg) 43.8 ± 7.4 44.4 ± 7.9 NS
BMI (kg/m2) 19.5 ± 2.2 19.4 ± 2.1 NS
Abbreviations: n = number of subjects; NS = p > 0.1.
Table 2.
Fitness parameters.
Fitness measure Baseline
(mean ± SD)
(mean ± SD) p-value
Balance (s) 12.28 ± 3.42 14.65 ± 3.31 0.001
Leg Power (W) 1818.4 ± 496.1 1765.0 ± 520.4 NS
Relative VO2max
(ml/kg/min) 49.3 ± 4.8 49.6 ± 4.9 NS
VO2max (L/min) 1.15 ± 0.22 1.18 ± 0.22 NS
Methods: Study 2
Girls who were 10 - 13 years old, weighed 36 - 72 kg (80 -
160 lb) due to weight restrictions provided by the pogo stick
manufacturers, were not injured or ill, and lived in a specific
low socioeconomic inner city area of North Halifax were re-
cruited to participate in this study. Flybar Foam Master pogo
sticks and helmets approved by the Canadian Standards Asso-
ciation were provided for each subject; participants were re-
quired to dress in athletic apparel and wear rubber-soled gym-
shoes to all activity sessions. No injuries were sustained by the
children in this program.
Study Desig n
This pilot study was a 6 week cohort intervention using sin-
gle subject design (Janosky, 2005). The hour long pogo stick
sessions were held in the winter after school twice a week for
six consecutive weeks. The location used was a dance studio in
the basement of a local community center that was within walk-
ing distance to an elementary school.
Experimental Measurements
Each child’s self-esteem was assessed using a questionnaire,
the Harter Self-Perception Profile for Children (Wichstrom,
1995). Participants were given privacy and space from each
other during test administration. Talking among participants
was not permitted. Test administrators were instructed to an-
swer any questions using the directions set forth by the Harter
Scale (Wichstrom, 1995). The children took approximately 25
minutes to complete this instrument.
To determine if the pogo intervention correlated with a change
in overall PA, subjects were instructed to wear a Steps Count
pedometer at all times except when sleeping, swimming or bath-
ing. Each pedometer was marked with a number code, which was
matched to the participant and was reset immediately before
being secured on a subject. Pedometers were sealed using 3M™
Steri-Strip™ Adhesive Skin Closures sized 1/8 inch by 3 inch to
ensure they remained sealed for the duration of each test. These
closures allowed for a visual detection of pedometers that had
been opened without providing extra weight or size to the in-
strument. Participants did not have access to their individual or
measures. Immediately prior to the study, each pedometer was
tested for accuracy under conditions of walking, jogging, and
pogo sticking.
Experimental Procedures
The program was divided into two phases, the first one 2
weeks long and the second one, 4 weeks. In the first phase, the
girls were encouraged to increase their number of consecutive
jumps, jump on a spot, jump linearly by following line mark-
ings on the floor, and then to jump forwards, backwards, left,
and right. During the second phase, they worked on jumping
controlled distances, with eyes fixed on a target at eye level, in
small circles, and to music without getting distracted. They also
practiced bouncing at faster and slower rates and in unison with
a partner. Finally, they combined shorter moves into longer
sequences and practiced choreographed formations as a whole
group. Each session included an aerobic warm up, stretching
and various structured activities. Music to be played during
each session was chosen through group consensus and played at
a volume that did not compromise verbal communication be-
tween participants. Personal music devices were not permitted.
All sessions were structured and facilitated by the principle
investigator. A volunteer to participant ratio was maintained at
1:4 or smaller. Student volunteers were recruited from the Ki-
nesiology program at Dalhousie University.
Data Analysis
If a participant missed more than 2 sessions or failed to com-
plete either the pre- or post-test measures her data was not in-
cluded in the analysis. The primary determinant as to the use-
fulness of this intervention is identified a priori as improvement
in the majority of participants’ scores on the Harter Self-Per-
ception Profile and the number of steps taken daily as collected
by the pedometers. Pre- versus post-program measures were
compared using a 2-way analysis of variance with repeated
measures computed using SPSS version 15.0. Statistical signifi-
cance was set at the alpha level of 0.05 although, due to the
small sample size, trends (0.1 > p > 0.05) were also reported.
Results: Study 2
The children in this study were not physically measured but 3
out of the 7 whose data was analyzed appeared to be obese, 2
appeared possibly overweight, while 2 were slim. Out of a total
of twelve pogo sessions, four participants were 100% compliant,
two participants were 92% compliant with one missed session,
and one individual was 83% compliant. Another subject was 75%
compliant, having missed three sessions. Data from the subject
who missed three sessions were omitted from both the pedometer
count and the Harter Self-Perception Profile scores because it
exceeded the 2 missed sessions cutoff. All participants strongly
expressed that the program was fun and that they felt an attach-
ment to the program. Due to the strength of the demand, the pro-
gram was subsequently locally funded so that it could continue to
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
be offered in North Halifax and opened to additional girls. An
additional observation was that each girl quickly developed an
attachment to “her” pogo stick and helmet and created clear met-
hods to distinguish her own equipment from the rest.
The Harter Self-Perception Profile was administered at the
same time during the first day of the intervention and the last
day of the intervention. Seven participants were eligible to com-
plete the post-test measures. All results were segregated accord-
ing to the six subscales: scholastic competence (SCS), social
acceptance (SAS), athletic competence (ACS), physical appear-
ance (PAS), behavioral conduct (BCS), and global self-worth
(GSW). Percent differences in scores categorized by domain
illustrate the magnitude of change between pre- and post-test
administration (Figure 1). These differences were significant at
an alpha level 0.05 in the behavioral conduct scale. Although not
significant, a trend was found in the score increase in the global
self-worth scale.
The mean number of steps taken by the 7 girls doubled from
3302 ± 1035 before the study to 6821 ± 8497 in the final week
of the intervention. However, due to large differences between
subjects, this increase was not significant.
Both studies demonstrated that pogo exercise was fun for
pre-teen children whether they were previously sports-active or
sedentary. It also provided a considerable amount of high in-
tensity interval type exercise, as demonstrated by an observed
rapid onset of sweating, flushed faces, and frequent water foun-
tain breaks in both groups. Balance, but not other fitness mea-
sures, increased in the active children and steps taken daily
doubled in the sedentary girls. Substantial increases in self-
esteem were measured in the sedentary girls from the low so-
cioeconomic neighborhood.
To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate bene-
fits to youth of exercise using pogo sticks. However, Colon et al.
(Colin, Stephens, Graman, & Kues, 1984) anecdotally reported an
increase in balance, which is supported by the results of Study 1.
Interestingly, in our study, balance prior to the intervention was
not correlated to time spent in MVPA. This suggests that bal-
ance does not improve with all physical activity, but only with
training that is specific to balance. A previous study increased
balance in youth with the intent of reducing sport-related injury
by utilizing wobble boards as part of a proprioceptive balance
training intervention (Emery, Cassidy, Klassen, Rosychuk, &
Rowe, 2005). That the pogo stick intervention was able to im-
prove balance suggests that pogo sticking may be a fun method
to improve balance.
Cardiovascular fitness did not increase as expected following
the pogo stick intervention, perhaps because these children
were already physically active and healthy. They had an aver-
age VO2max of 49.3 ml/kg/min before they began the pogo
stick intervention, which is consistent with the findings of oth-
ers who reported that the average aerobic capacity of youth
aged 10 - 12 was 52.5 ml/kg/min (Frost, Bar-Or, Dowling, &
Dyson, 2002). However, we are somewhat uncertain about the
accuracy of our results from the Leger shuttle test, given that
the children did not enjoy this test and appeared to drop out of
it before they had applied their maximal effort.
Diallo and colleagues (Diallo, Dore, Duche, & Van Praagh,
2001) reported that plyometric training improved leg power in
boys 12 - 13 years old, who were slightly older than our cohort.
p = 0.07
p = 0.02
p = 0.1
p = 0.1
Global Self-Worth
Behavioural Conduct
Physical Appearance
Athletic Competence
Scholastic Competence
Social Acceptance
Figure 1.
Summary of percent differences in scores between pre- and
post-test administration of the Harter Self-Perception Profile
for children, categorized by domain.
However, leg power did not improve with pogo sticking in our
group nor in a cohort of pogo stickers reported by Colin and
colleagues (Colin et al., 1984). They attributed their finding to
reduced knee flexion, which they limited to 5 - 7 degrees of
flexion as an intervention condition. Knee flexion was not mea-
sured in our study, although we observed that as the subjects
became more efficient, they required less knee flexion to pro-
duce the desired movement. While plyometric activities pro-
duce increases in leg power, more efficient but less dynamic
bounces on the pogo stick may not. These less dynamic move-
ments may not have been sufficient to produce increased leg
power to the same extent as does plyometric training.
Self-evaluative judgments become less positive as children
move into adolescents which is evident as the self-esteem of
girls often markedly declines between the ages of 10 and 13
years old (Brown et al., 1998). Because low self-esteem may
increase the risk of harmful behavior (Biro et al., 2006) the
efficacy of physical activity to raise self-esteem in children
(Inchley, Kirby, & Currie, 2011) is especially important. The
Harter Profile behavioral conduct domain assesses factors in-
ternal to the individual such as skills, willpower, and know-
ledge, as well as external factors such as cooperation. During
the course of the pogo program behavioral conduct scores sig-
nificantly improved. The observed increase may be explained
by the discipline needed to learn a new skill such as pogo
sticking. Pogo sticking requires considerable balance and
proved quite difficult for some participants to learn. Although
we did not measure skill progression in the participants, our
observations were that certain participants seemed to pick up
the skills quickly while others experienced considerable diffi-
culty at the beginning of the program. All participants displayed
perseverance and challenge during the sessions but it was par-
ticularly evident in the individuals who experienced marked
difficulty. By the end of the second week of the program all
participants had made significant improvements in their skill
levels and by the end of the program everyone had mastered the
pogo stick. Cooperation was also promoted through team-
building activities and group choreographed pogo dance pro-
jects. The improvement in behavioral conduct is positive be-
cause the perception of behavioral control is linked with intent
to participate in vigorous physical activity in children (Craig et al.,
1996). This suggests that when children feel competent with
their physical activity abilities they are more likely to become
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 25
engage in physical activities and sustain participation. For this
reason, the Harter scale is able to illustrate certain aspects of
self-concept that are beneficial to participation in physical ac-
tivity (Donaldson & Ronan, 2006) and may suggest that atti-
tudes towards physical activity had improved in our subjects.
The global self-worth of the pogo program participants im-
proved as an overall trend. The global self-worth domain is
intended to highlight how much the individual likes herself as a
person so the marked improvement on this subscale may also
influence improvement in other domains. However, the stability
of these results depends on if global self-worth is considered a
stable concept or an evolving characteristic that changes in
response to developmental changes (Granleese & Joseph, 1994).
Due to the controversy of the formulation and consistency of
this concept it is difficult to draw conclusions based on in-
creases in this scale alone although when combined with the
observed increases in the other five domains, we are confident
with the positive impact of the pogo program. Based on the
ability of the pogo program to elicit increases in the global self
worth domain after six weeks, we assume that this global self
worth can reflect short-term fluctuations in self-esteem (Harter
& Whitesell, 2003).
The high variability in the step counts recorded by the pe-
dometers rendered at least one very high value in the post-pogo
measures to be suspect and, therefore, the overall post-pogo
mean to be higher than its true values. However, without evi-
dence that it and not others should be discarded, the mean
counts were computed using all data. The mean values of the
pedometer counts indicate that the girls in the low socioeco-
nomic neighborhood averaged just over half the steps taken by
girls in other western countries at the end of the intervention
and a mere quarter of the average number prior to the pogo
training. Given the rapid recent increase in obesity among chil-
dren (Shields & Tremblay, 2010), this low level of physical
activity is alarming.
Limitations of these pilot studies include their small number
of subjects and the lack of control groups. We found it difficult
to recruit children for the control groups because they all wished
to pogo. Additionally, we are not entirely confident in the results
of the Leger 20 m test and the pedometer data. Some children
found the Harter Self-Perception Profile for Children to be long
and complicated and may not have retained enough focus to
complete the test to the best of their abilities. Pogo sticking is
very strenuous, so the hour-long format of both interventions
might not be optimal. Instead, bouts of 10 minutes once or twice
a day, perhaps at recess, might be more effective in delivering
bouts of high intensity interval like exercise. Such exercise has
been shown to be more motivating to children (Barkley, Epstein,
& Roemmich, 2009) and can provide substantial health benefits
to some adolescents (Tjonna et al., 2009).
In conclusion, we tested two different exercise interventions
by offering them as after school programs to two different co-
horts of elementary school aged children. Both programs util-
ized pogo sticks and were adapted for their targeted populations.
All the children in both studies expressed enthusiasm for the
pogo programs and were able to gain the skills needed to re-
main on a pogo stick until volitional dismount. The results and
observations from this study suggest that pogo stick programs
could provide substantial amounts of vigorous exercise to a
cross-section of children and may be especially useful in pro-
viding both psychosocial and physical benefits to sedentary
girls in low socioeconomic neighborhoods.
The authors would like to thank Flybar and SBI Enterprises
for the donation of the pogo sticks used in the study.
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