Research Study Abstract

Children's Physical Activity Levels During School-based Programs and After-school Segment

  • Presented on May 29, 2014

Purpose: Physical education (PE), exergaming, recess, lunch recess, and after-school segment are important avenues that may contribute to children’s physical activity (PA) time each day. However, the contributions of the school-based and after-school segments to children’s daily PA levels remain unclear. Therefore, this study was designed to quantify the contributions of PE, exergaming, recess, lunch recess and after-school segments to children’s objectively measured PA level.

Methods: Participants were 138 second and third graders (71 girls; Mean-age= 8.14 yrs) from a suburban elementary school in Texas. Beyond the daily 20-minute recess and 30-minute lunch time, participants attended 25-minute regular PE or exergaming-based PE classes being alternated daily. Fourteen hours (8:00am-10:00pm) were designated as children’s daily weekday time, with six hours and 40 minutes (3:20-10:00pm) being defined as their after-school time. Children’s PA levels were assessed by ActiGraph accelerometers for three PE and three exergaming days. The dependent variables were children’s % of time on MVPA in different segments and % of daily MVPA time derived from different segments.

Results: On average, children demonstrated approximately 46 minutes of MVPA per day on PE days, accounting for 5.48% of the total weekday time (i.e., 14 hours). Specifically, they spent 26.14%, 12.30%, 6%, 4.47% of time in MVPA in PE, recess, after-school, and lunch recess, respectively. Similarly, children accumulated approximately 42 minutes of MVPA per day (5%) on exergaming days, with 15.85%, 12.16%, 5.17%, 5.78% of MVPA from exergaming, recess, after-school and lunch time, respectively. Additionally, after school contributed the most minutes (49.8 – 53.2%) to children’s daily MVPA, followed by PE/exergaming (9.7-15.9%,), lunch time (8-9.8%) and recess (5.6-6.5%). Regression analyses revealed all these segments significantly predicted children’s daily MVPA.

Conclusion: The school-based programs (e.g., PE/exergaming), often occurring in a focused time frame, prove to be effective in generating MVPA. However, these programs are often limited by instructional time. After school, in contrast, is less constrained by time. It holds great potentials as an avenue to further increasing children’s daily MVPA time.

Presented at

ACSM 2014 Annual Meeting