It has been well documented that school students' physical activity (PA) levels in physical education (PE) can be influenced by different learning activities offered (Kulinna et al., 2003). Although the majority of researchers have focused on moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) as the outcomes of students' PA levels, relatively few studies have been devoted to exploring students' PA at various intensity levels (i.e., light intensity, MVPA). Additionally, inconclusive findings have been reported in students' MVPA as a function of gender (Mckenzie et al., 2000). Gender differences in PA at different intensity levels have been lacking. This study, therefore, aimed at examining the influences of different learning activities and gender on students' PA levels in PE.
A total of 151 sixth to eighth graders (83 boys, 68 girls) enrolled in a public school in the U.S. and had a 90-minute PE class on alternate days. They participated in three different activities (walking/jogging, football, and soccer) in PE classes during the time of data collection. Students' in-class PA levels were measured by Actical accelerometers (Mini-Mitter Co., Inc., Bend, OR) and were quantified as students' average counts at MVPA per min. and light intensity PA (LPA) per min.
A 2 x3 (gender x activity) MANOVA yielded a significant interaction effect, Wilks' Lambda = .91, F (6, 286) = 2.42, p = .03, h2 = .05. Follow-up tests revealed that, for the boys, individuals in walking/jogging class displayed significantly higher LPA levels than those in soccer and football classes (p < .01, p < .05, respectively). For the girls, however, individuals demonstrated lower MVPA in walking/jogging class than those in soccer and football classes (p < .01 for both). There were main effects of gender, Wilks' Lambda = .92, F (3, 143) = 4.40, p < .01, h2 = .09, and activity, Wilks' Lambda = .90, F (6, 286) = 2.53, p = .02, h2 = .05. Specifically, boys demonstrated significantly higher MVPA than girls in all activities (p < .05). Students in soccer class had significantly higher MVPA than those in walking/jogging class (p < .05).
The results suggested that there were learning activities and gender differences of students' PA in PE class at different intensity levels. Therefore, physical educators should consider the physical and physiological effects that different learning activities and gender may have on students when implementing PE programs that attempt to promote students' in-class PA levels.
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