WHAT happens to a child when they start running or walking a mile every day?

It hardly requires asserting that their fitness levels are likely to improve, dramatically, but the other, more subtle, changes are perhaps a bit less obvious.

In a few weeks, the universities of Stirling and Edinburgh will publish the findings of a study looking closely at the impact of a daily mile on pupils at one Scottish primary.

Every day since March 2011, teachers at St Ninian’s  in Stirling have kept 15 minutes aside in the school day for pupils to walk, jog or run a mile in the playground.

After only a few  months of the launch of the Daily Mile, teachers described the impact as “transformative.” Over the following years they reported that no children were overweight. 

At a time when obesity levels amongst children show no signs of decreasing, it’s no small accomplishment. 

Research shows children who are overweight in primary school, are less likely to revert to a healthy weight in adulthood, while tubbier pre-schoolers face a more positive outlook.

In November last year, Health Secretary Shona Robison said she would be writing to every school in Scotland to encourage them to participate. The latest figures show that more than 800 primary schools, including a number in Glasgow, have adopted the Daily Mile or a similar approach, which is encouraging stuff.

Parents of children who are taking part in the scheme report that they are less fractious and sleeping and eating better and perhaps, most significant, they are talking about their health at home.

One dad, who lives in East Renfrewshire, said his two daughters - one of whom he described as “slightly exercise averse” had, “accepted it as part of school life.”

Most people of a certain age will have grim memories of ‘cross country’ at school, unless they were athletically gifted.

We weren’t taught how to run, we were simply despatched into a field and shouted at by a stationary teacher in a track suit.

I have one memory of the sheer lung bursting hell of it in driving rain and opted out of every other session.

It was at least 15 years before I tried it  again, with a lot more success, thanks to the Women’s Running Network, a council-run group that encouraged thousands in Glasgow to take up jogging but has sadly borne the brunt of budget cuts.

One parent, while supportive, said she sympathised with primary teachers battling to fit a 15-minute outdoor run into an already  jam-packed day. 

It’s true that running is not for everyone, some pupils will undoubtedly ditch the Daily Mile as soon as they move to secondary and children should be exposed to as many forms of sport as possible if it is to become a life-long habit.

However, it’s a brilliant way to normalise exercise at an early age and teach children that moving their bodies is as important as the three Rs.