Physical Activity Levels of Children during School Playtime

Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK.
Sports Medicine (Impact Factor: 5.04). 02/2006; 36(4):359-71. DOI: 10.2165/00007256-200636040-00005
Source: PubMed


School represents a suitable setting for intervention programmes aiming to promote physical activity to benefit health. During the school day, physical education and school playtime offer children regular opportunities to engage in physical activity. However, there is growing concern that, internationally, curricular time allocated to physical education is not meeting statutory guidelines. The effectiveness of the playground environment to promote physical activity has been considered as a complementary setting to physical education. Physical activity guidelines state that children should engage in at least 1 hour of moderate intensity physical activity a day. Currently no empirically tested guidelines exist for physical activity levels during playtime. However, studies cited in this article indicate that playtime can contribute between 5-40% of recommended daily physical activity levels when no interventions have been utilised. The limited school-based investigations that have been reported in the literature suggest that boys engage in more physical activity during playtime than girls. Studies that have implemented intervention strategies in order to promote physical activity levels indicate that playtime can substantially contribute towards daily optimal physical activity guidelines. Energy expenditure and physical activity levels have increased during playtime following the implementation of playtime-based interventions. In order to advance knowledge of children's physical activity during playtime, a number of key issues for consideration in future research are detailed. Research on children's use of playtime to be physically active and the extent of the contribution of playtime to daily physical activity guidelines is warranted.

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    • "Introducing active breaks in class could also increase activity levels while having potential to stimulate improved academic performance [36]. As recommended by several researchers [37] more activity can be done during recess, when children can engage in up to twenty minutes of MVPA. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background There is some evidence that physical activity (PA), sedentary time and screen time (ST) are associated with childhood obesity, but research is inconclusive and studies are mainly based on self-reported data. The literature is dominated by data from North American countries and there is a shortage of objective data from Malta which has one of the highest prevalences of childhood obesity in the world. The aims of this study were to assess the PA levels and ST patterns of Maltese boys and girls and how they compared with children in other countries while also examining differences in PA and ST by weight status. Methods A nationally representative sample of 1126 Maltese boys and girls aged 10–11 years, of which 811 provided complete data. Physical activity was assessed using accelerometry, and ST by questionnaire. Body mass index (BMI) was computed from measured height and weight. Results Only 39% of boys and 10% of girls met the recommendation of one hour of daily MVPA. Comparison with international data indicated that mean MVPA (58.1 min for boys; 41.7 min for girls) was higher than in North America and Australia, but lower than in England. Girls were less active than boys at all measured times and spent less time in ST. A quarter of the children exceeded guidelines of two hours of TV on weekends, and double the amount on weekdays. Obese children were less active than normal weight children on weekdays and on weekends, reaching significance during the period after school, and they spent more time in ST than their normal weight counterparts. Conclusions A low percentage of Maltese 10–11 year olds, particularly girls, reached the recommended levels of daily MVPA and spent large amounts of time engaged in screen time. Obese children were less active than non-obese children. As children spend most of their waking time at school and that activity during this time is less than one third of the daily requirements, aiming to increase MVPA at school for all Maltese children is likely to be an important strategy to promote MVPA. Targeting less active and obese children is important.
    BMC Public Health 06/2014; 14(1):664. DOI:10.1186/1471-2458-14-664 · 2.26 Impact Factor
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    • "Evidence shows that, in general, boys are more active than girls [10], also during recess [7,11,12]. One study in particular reported that the greatest gender difference in children’s PA was found in institutional settings, such as schools, where children relied on self-organized activities during recess and after-school day care [13]. "
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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 · 2.26 Impact Factor
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    • "Accessing green space and engaging in outdoor play during the school day is therefore a key component to the health, well-being and development of children (Ward Thompson et al. 2008). Yet, children spend much of their playtime on the concrete playground (Ridgers et al. 2006) and often have limited access to green spaces within the school environment. The primary purpose of this study was to determine which type of playtime intervention is most effective at increasing PA levels and improving SE in UK school children. "
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    ABSTRACT: School playtime provides opportunities for children to engage in physical activity (PA). Playground playtime interventions designed to increase PA have produced differing results. However, nature can also promote PA, through the provision of large open spaces for activity. The purpose of this study is to determine which playtime interventions are most effective at increasing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and if this varies by school location. Fifty-two children from an urban and rural school participated in a playground sports (PS) and nature-based orienteering intervention during playtime for one week. MVPA was assessed the day before and on the final day of the interventions using accelerometers. Intervention type (p < 0.05) and school location (p < 0.001) significantly influenced MVPA; with PS increasing MVPA more than nature-based orienteering. Urban children seemed to respond to the interventions more positively; however, differences in baseline MVPA might influence these changes. There was a positive correlation for fitness and MVPA during PS (r = 0.32; p < 0.05), but not nature-based orienteering (p > 0.05). The provision of PS influences PA the most; however, a variety of interventions are required to engage less fit children in PA.
    International Journal of Environmental Health Research 05/2014; 25(2):1-11. DOI:10.1080/09603123.2014.915020 · 1.57 Impact Factor
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