A Comparison of Children’s Physical Activity Levels in Physical Education, Recess, and Exergaming

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Purpose:

To compare young children’s different intensity physical activity (PA) levels in physical education, recess and exergaming programs.

Methods:

Participants were 140 first and second grade children (73 girls; Meanage= 7.88 years). Beyond the daily 20-minute recess, participants attended 75-minute weekly physical education classes and another 75-minute weekly exergaming classes. Children’s PA levels were assessed by ActiGraph GTX3 accelerometers for 3 sessions in the 3 programs. The outcome variables were percentages of time spent in sedentary, light PA and moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA).

Results:

There were significant main effects for program and grade, and an interaction effect for program by grade. Specifically, children’s MVPA in exergaming and recess was higher than in physical education. The 2nd-grade children demonstrated lower sedentary behavior and MVPA than the first-grade children during recess; less light PA in both recess and exergaming than first-grade children; and less sedentary behavior but higher MVPA in exergaming than first-grade children.

Conclusions:

Young children generated higher PA levels in recess and exergaming as compared with physical education. Hence, other school-based PA programs may serve as essential components of a comprehensive school PA program. Implications are provided for educators and health professionals.

Gao (gaoz@umn.edu) is with the School of Kinesiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Chen is with the Dept of Kinesiology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA. Stodden is with the Dept of Physical Education and Athletic Training, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.

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