Physical, Policy, and Sociocultural Characteristics of the Primary School Environment are Positively Associated With Children’s Physical Activity During Class Time

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

The objective of this study was to develop a multidomain model to identify key characteristics of the primary school environment associated with children’s physical activity (PA) during class-time.

Methods:

Accelerometers were used to calculate time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity during class-time (CMVPA) of 408 sixth-grade children (mean ± SD age 11.1 ± 0.43 years) attending 27 metropolitan primary schools in Perth Western Australia. Child and staff self-report instruments and a school physical environment scan administered by the research team were used to collect data about children and the class and school environments. Hierarchical modeling identified key variables associated with CMVPA.

Results:

The final multilevel model explained 49% of CMVPA. A physically active physical education (PE) coordinator, fitness sessions incorporated into PE sessions and either a trained PE specialist, classroom teacher or nobody coordinating PE in the school, rather than the deputy principal, were associated with higher CMVPA. The amount of grassed area per student and sporting apparatus on grass were also associated with higher CMVPA.

Conclusion:

These results highlight the relevance of the school’s sociocultural, policy and physical environments in supporting class-based PA. Interventions testing optimization of the school physical, sociocultural and policy environments to support physical activity are warranted.

Martin and Bremner are with the School of Population Health, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, Australia. Rosenberg is with the School of Sport Science, Exercise, and Health, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Australia. Salmon is with the School of Sport Science, Exercise, and Health, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, Australia. Giles-Corti is with The McCaughey Centre–VicHealth Centre for the Promotion of Mental Health and Community Wellbeing, School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Australia.