Physical Activity in After-School Programs: Comparison With Physical Activity Policies

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

After-school programs (ASPs) across the nation have been asked to increase the amount of activity children accumulate during such programs. Policies/standards that benchmark the amount of total activity (light-to-vigorous physical activity, LVPA) and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) accumulated in an ASP have been developed. Little is known about the prevalence of children meeting these goals.

Methods:

Children (N = 812, 6 to 12 y old) attending 19 ASPs wore accelerometers for 4 days while attending an ASP. LVPA and MVPA were dichotomized according to existing ASP policies/standards. Data on whether a policy/standard was met were compared between gender, age, BMI, race/ethnicity, and ASP-type (faith-, school-, community-based) using mixed-model logistic-regression.

Results:

The prevalence of meeting an LVPA policy/standard ranged from 75.4% (National Afterschool Association [NAA], 20% of program time spent in LVPA) to 97.8% (NAA, 20% of time in attendance spent in LVPA), and meeting an MVPA policy/standard ranged from 0.3% (California, 60 min MVPA/d) to 26.9% (North Carolina, 20% of attendance spent in MVPA). Boys, younger children, nonwhites, and children attending faithor community-based ASPs were more likely to meet any policy/standard.

Conclusion:

Current practice in ASPs is sufficient to meet LVPA policies/standards but insufficient to meet MVPA policy/standards. Efforts must be directed toward identifying the most appropriate policy/standard and strategies to meet it.

Beets (beets@mailbox.sc.edu), Shah, and Weaver are with the Dept of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. Huberty is with the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ. Beighle is with the Dept of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY. Moore is with the Dept of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.