Background/Purpose: Afterschool programs (3-6pm, ASPs) are positioned to play a vital role in the improvement children's daily physical activity (PA). Recent guidelines specify children should accumulate 4,600steps•day-1 while attending an ASP. The extent to which ASPs currently meet this goal and how many steps•day-1 children naturally accumulate within the ASP setting is unknown. The purpose of this study was to describe the pedometer-determined PA of a large sample of children attending a diverse range of ASPs and evaluate the extent to which ASPs are meeting current PA guidelines.
Method: Children (N = 934, 51% girls, avg 8.2yrs range 4-14yrs) enrolled across 25 ASPs wore Walk4Life MVPa pedometers (number of steps accumulated, time spent active [hrs:mins:sec]) up to 4 days. Three-level random intercept models (days within children within ASPs) were estimated.
Analysis/Results: On average children attended ASPs for 125min•day-1, accumulated 2,944steps•day-1, and spent approximately 26.6min•day-1 in PA. Only 16.5% of the 1,819 daily observations met the 4,600steps•day-1 guideline. No differences in steps•day-1, min•day-1 in PA, or demographics were observed among children measured a single day versus 2, 3 or 4 days. Based on current practice, children would need to spend approximately 3.4hrs•day-1 at an ASP to reach 4,600steps•day-1.
Conclusions: Activity levels in ASPs are well below current recommendations, suggesting substantial effort is needed to identify strategies ASPs can employ to ensure children are sufficiently active. The methodology and estimates provided herein can serve to inform the planning of future studies evaluating or intervening on PA within ASPs.
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