Effects of a Classroom-Based Program on Physical Activity and On-Task Behavior

Activity Promotion Laboratory, Department of Exercise and Sport Science, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858, USA.
Medicine &amp Science in Sports &amp Exercise (Impact Factor: 3.98). 01/2007; 38(12):2086-94. DOI: 10.1249/01.mss.0000235359.16685.a3
Source: PubMed


This study evaluated the effects of a classroom-based physical activity program on children's in-school physical activity levels and on-task behavior during academic instruction.
Physical activity of 243 students was assessed during school hours. Intervention-group students (N = 135) received a classroom-based program (i.e., Energizers). The control group (N = 108) did not receive Energizers. On-task behavior during academic instruction time was observed for 62 third-grade (N = 37) and fourth-grade students (N = 25) before and after Energizers activities. An independent groups t-test compared in-school physical activity levels between intervention and control classes. A multiple-baseline across-classrooms design was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the Energizers on on-task behavior. Additionally, a two-way (time [pre- vs postobservation] x period [baseline vs intervention]) repeated-measures analysis of variance compared on-task behavior between observation periods. Magnitudes of mean differences were evaluated with Cohen's delta (ES).
Students in the intervention group took significantly (P < 0.05) more in-school steps (5587 +/- 1633) than control-group students (4805 +/- 1543), and the size of this difference was moderate (ES = 0.49). The intervention was effective in improving on-task behavior; after the Energizers were systematically implemented, on-task behavior systematically improved. The improvement in on-task behavior of 8% between the pre-Energizers and post-Energizers observations was statistically significant (P < 0.017), and the difference was moderate (ES = 0.60). Likewise, the least on-task students improved on-task behavior by 20% after Energizers activities. This improvement was statistically significant (P < 0.001) and meaningful (ES = 2.20).
A classroom-based physical activity program was effective for increasing daily in-school physical activity and improving on-task behavior during academic instruction.


Available from: Matthew T Mahar
    • "The researchers also found that incorporating movement in lessons can simultaneously contribute to children's academic performance (Erwin, Beighle, et al., 2011; Erwin, Abel, et al., 2011). In these previous studies the implementation of physically active academic lessons contributed to significant improvements in time students spent engaged in academic learning and in 'on-task' behaviours (Grieco, Jowers, & Bartholomew, 2009; Mahar et al., 2006; Riley, Lubans, Morgan, & Young, 2014). Despite this evidence, few teachers use physically active teaching methods (Morgan & Hansen, 2008). "
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    • "The study run by Heitzler (2006) with a substantial and representative sample, showed the children's beliefs on the benefits of participating in physical activity and the importance of parents' support. Della Valle et al. (1986), Maeda and Randall (2003), Norlander et al. (2005), Mahar et al. (2006), Rogers and Harvey (2012) and Cardeal et al. (2013) run studies that assessed the influence of physical activities in a classroom on: cognitive skills (e.g., aptitude, attention, memory); attitudes (e.g., mood); academic behaviours (e.g., on-task behaviour, concentration) and academic achievement (e.g., standardized test outcomes, reading literacy outcomes, and math fluency outcomes). The interventions involved the introduction of physical activities, by trained teachers, into the classroom setting. "
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    • "Focusing on the synergistic effects of physical activity and academic performance (Lees and Hopkins 2013), physical activity programs incorporating short bouts of acute exercise could be effectively applied during daily school schedules to promote physical activity and enhance cognitive performance in children (Drollette et al. 2014). The role of school-based physical activity programs in increasing physical activity during the school day either through recess or breaks or by integrating physical activity with academic content has been investigated in several studies (Bartholomew and Jowers 2011; Castelli et al. 2011; Davis et al. 2011; Donnelly and Lambourne 2011; Hillman et al. 2009; Kibbe et al. 2011; Lambourne et al. 2013; Mahar et al. 2006; Telford et al. 2012; Vazou and Smiley-Oyen 2014). In general, these studies report positive associations between physical activity and learning outcomes in elementary and high school children (Erwin et al. 2012). "
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