The Impact of Classroom Activity Breaks on Children's Physical Activity

Thursday, April 25, 2013
Exhibit Hall Poster Area 2 (Convention Center)
Teresa Berschwinger, State University of New York–Brockport, Brockport, NY and Timothy A. Brusseau, The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

Background/Purpose . Schools have been identified as a central element in a system that ensures that children participate in enough physical activity to develop healthy lifestyles. Even with this recommendation, many school-based physical activity opportunities (i.e. physical education, recess) are being eliminated/minimized. With children spending much of their time at school, other supplemental physical activity opportunities are essential. One such opportunity is through classroom teacher led physical activity breaks. Very little evidence exists identifying the impact of classroom activity breaks on the daily physical activity patterns of children. Thus, the purpose was to determine the impact of classroom teacher led physical activity breaks on the school-day step counts and MVPA of 4th grade children.

Method . Participants in this pilot study included a 4th grade class (N=18; aged 9.2±.4 years; mostly Caucasian (n=14); BMI=19.9±2.8) in a rural school district in the Northeast US. Children wore the NL-1000 accelerometer for 2-weeks (a baseline week and an intervention week) during the winter of 2012. Activity breaks were created by the teacher/students to give them ownership in the program (activities included numerous classroom games and walking activities).

Analysis/Results . At baseline, children averaged 4806±639 steps and 17.7±2.8 minutes of MVPA/day. During implementation of the physical activity breaks, children significantly increased both their steps (p<.01; 5651±627; Δ=845) and MVPA ((p<.01; 22.3±3.5; Δ=4.6 minutes).

Conclusions . Findings suggest that classroom activity breaks have the potential to increase children's daily physical activity patterns at school. Future studies are needed with a larger and more diverse population to support these findings.