Playtimes (recess), within the school setting are discussed within the literature as diverse places that may or may not have a contributory effect to physical activity levels of children. Ridgers et al. (2006) stated that “playtime can contribute between 5 and 40% of the recommended daily physical activity levels when no interventions have been utilised” (p.359). Whilst Pate et al. (1996), suggested that “children best accumulate physical activity during playtime and in unstructured environments, where they are free to interact with their peers” (p.96). But what really happens within a elementary school setting?
This paper compares boys and girls and infants (aged 6 – 7 years) and juniors (9 – 10 years) physical activity. Data were collected within a case study school setting over one school year. 20 children wore Actigraph accelerometers to record physical activity intensity levels. Morning recess was 20 minutes, lunchtime 60 minutes and this time included sitting and eating lunch. The infants also had an afternoon recess of 15 minutes. A repeated measures 3 factor ANOVA was used to analyse the effects of factors, P values of <0.05 were taken as the value for statistical significance ± one standard deviation. Statistical analysis was completed using SPSS 17.0.
Results and Conclusion
Significant findings were found for boys being most active during lunchtimes. Junior boys during lunchtimes were MVPA for 38% of the time whilst infant girls were only MVPA for 18% of the time. Children were static for between 33 and 46% of the time and that infants were static for the longest. The paper proposes various opportunities and challenges for teachers in terms of improving MVPA of infants, including possible challenges of infants not yet mastering the fine and gross motor skills involved in cutting up their lunch (Gallahue, 1996).
Gallahue, D.L. (1996) Developmental Physical Education for Today’s Children. Madison: Brown and Benchmark.
Guo, S., Zhang, H. and Zhai, R. (2010) ‘A potential way of enquiry into human curiosity’, British Journal of Educational Technology, 41 (3), pp. E48 – E52.
Humes, W. and Bryce, T. (2001) ‘Scholarship, Research and the Evidential Basis of Policy Development in Education’, British Journal of Educational Studies, 49 (3) pp.329 - 352
Pate, R.R., Baranowski, T., Dowda, M. and Trost, S.G., (1996) ‘Tracking of physical activity in young children’, Medicine Science Sport Exercise, 28 (1), pp. 92 - 96.
Ridgers, N. Stratton, G. and Fairclough, S. J. (2006) ‘Physical Activity Levels of Children during School Playtime’, Sports Medicine, 36 (4), pp. 359 – 371.