Article

The association of school environments with physical activity

Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, United States
American Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 4.23). 05/2001; 91(4):618-20. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.91.4.618
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This study assessed the association of school environmental characteristics with student physical activity on campus.
Physical activity areas (n = 137) at 24 public middle schools were assessed for area type, size, and improvements (e.g., basketball courts). Student physical activity and the presence of equipment and supervision were directly observed before school, after lunch, and after school.
Environmental characteristics explained 42% of the variance in the proportion of girls who were physically active and 59% of the variance for boys.
School environments with high levels of supervision and improvements stimulated girls and boys to be more physically active.

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    • "Indeed, some studies have associated children's active commuting with not only a better cardiometabolic profile (Cooper et al., 2008) and level of fitness (Chillón et al., 2010) but also with children's smaller waist circumference (Andersen et al., 2011). However, other studies have found no positive association between active commuting to school (ACS) and obesity and metabolic risk factors (Chillón et al., 2012; Dunton et al., 2009; Heelan et al., 2005; Rosenberg, Sallis, Conway, Cain, & McKenzie, 2006; Sallis et al., 2001). Distance to school has been consistently linked to active commuting rates, such as those living close to school commuting more actively than those living further away. "
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose. The aim of this study was to examine (a) whether distance from home to school is a determinant of active commuting to school (ACS), (b) the relationship between distance from home to heavily used facilities (school, green spaces, and sports facilities) and the weight status and cardiometabolic risk categories, and (c) whether ACS has a positive impact on schoolchildren's health. Method. A cross-sectional study was conducted with 956 schoolchildren aged 10 to 12 years from the province of Cuenca, Spain. Height, weight, fat mass, waist circumference, blood pressure, fasting plasma lipid profile, insulin, fitness, physical activity, and ACS were measured. Distances from home to facilities were measured by a geographic information system, and a validated metabolic syndrome index was used. Findings. Children living closer to school (less than 600 m) commuted actively to school more frequently than children living further away (more than 800 m). Normoweight boys lived further away from sports facilities than overweight/obese peers, and children presenting higher cardiometabolic risk levels lived closer to school than those who did not. No differences were found between children who daily walked/cycled to school and those commuting actively to school less frequently in body mass index, metabolic syndrome index, fitness, and physical activity. Conclusions. ACS had no positive impact on schoolchildren's health. Distance to school is an indicator of active commuting. However, it seems that not enough physical activity is done to prevent obesity and cardiometabolic risk factors in rural areas.
    Health Education &amp Behavior 09/2014; DOI:10.1177/1090198114549373 · 1.54 Impact Factor
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    • "Another study also found that conflicts were time consuming in PE lessons, suggesting that up to one quarter of lesson time was taken up by conflicts related to organization of teams, activities and game rules [35]. The lack of teacher present in outdoor areas seems to be related to conflicts, hence increased teacher supervision could lead to faster conflict resolution and thus provide increased PA, particularly among boys [36,37]. However, in our study girls also described benefiting from increased teacher supervision, in particular if the monitoring teachers participated in the play then girls experienced reduced conflicts and less boy dominance. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Many children, in particular girls, do not reach the recommended amount of daily physical activity. School recess provides an opportunity for both boys and girls to be physically active, but barriers to recess physical activity are not well understood. This study explores gender differences in children’s perceptions of barriers to recess physical activity. Based on the socio-ecological model four types of environmental barriers were distinguished: natural, social, physical and organizational environment. Methods Data were collected through 17 focus groups (at 17 different schools) with in total 111 children (53 boys) from fourth grade, with a mean age of 10.4 years. The focus groups included an open group discussion, go-along group interviews, and a gender segregated post-it note activity. A content analysis of the post-it notes was used to rank the children’s perceived barriers. This was verified by a thematic analysis of transcripts from the open discussions and go-along interviews. Results The most frequently identified barriers for both boys and girls were weather, conflicts, lack of space, lack of play facilities and a newly-found barrier, use of electronic devices. While boys and girls identified the same barriers, there were both inter- and intra-gender differences in the perception of these barriers. Weather was a barrier for all children, apart from the most active boys. Conflicts were perceived as a barrier particularly by those boys who played ballgames. Girls said they would like to have more secluded areas added to the school playground, even in large schoolyards where lack of space was not a barrier. This aligned with girls’ requests for more “hanging-out” facilities, whereas boys primarily wanted activity promoting facilities. Conclusion Based on the results from this study, we recommend promoting recess physical activity through a combination of actions, addressing barriers within the natural, social, physical and organizational environment.
    BMC Public Health 06/2014; 14(1):639. DOI:10.1186/1471-2458-14-639 · 2.32 Impact Factor
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    • "In primary schools, all eight interventions included the provision of play equipment and/or the application of playground markings. Six of the eight experimental studies in primary schools included a no-intervention condition [28-32,34,35,40,44]. One study examined the isolated effect of playground markings with a no-intervention condition [31,32]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The (pre)school environment is an important setting to improve children's health. Especially, the (pre)school playground provides a major opportunity to intervene. This review presents an overview of the existing evidence on the value of both school and preschool playgrounds on children's health in terms of physical activity, cognitive and social outcomes. In addition, we aimed to identify which playground characteristics are the strongest correlates of beneficial effects and for which subgroups of children effects are most distinct. In total, 13 experimental and 17 observational studies have been summarized of which 10 (77%) and 16 (94%) demonstrated moderate to high methodological quality, respectively. Nearly all experimental studies (n = 11) evaluated intervention effects on time spent in different levels of physical activity during recess. Research on the effects of (pre)school playgrounds on cognitive and social outcomes is scarce (n = 2). The experimental studies generated moderate evidence for an effect of the provision of play equipment, inconclusive evidence for an effect of the use of playground markings, allocating play space and for multi-component interventions, and no evidence for an effect of decreasing playground density, the promotion of physical activity by staff and increasing recess duration on children's health. In line with this, observational studies showed positive associations between play equipment and children's physical activity level. In contrast to experimental studies, significant associations were also found between children's physical activity and a decreased playground density and increased recess duration. To confirm the findings of this review, researchers are advised to conduct more experimental studies with a randomized controlled design and to incorporate the assessment of implementation strategies and process evaluations to reveal which intervention strategies and playground characteristics are most effective.
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