Wasting Our Time? Allocated Versus Accumulated Physical Activity in Afterschool Programs

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

Afterschool programs (ASPs) can provide opportunities for children to accumulate moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). The optimal amount of time ASPs should allocate for physical activity (PA) on a daily basis to ensure children achieve policystated PA recommendations remains unknown.

Methods:

Children (n = 1248, 5 to 12 years) attending 20 ASPs wore accelerometers up to 4 nonconsecutive week days for the duration of the ASPs during spring 2013 (February–April). Daily schedules were obtained from each ASP.

Results:

Across 20 ASPs, 3 programs allocated ≤ 30min, 5 approximately 45 min, 4 60 min, 4 75 min, and 4 ≥ 105 min for PA opportunities daily (min·d-1). Children accumulated the highest levels of MVPA in ASPs that allocated ≥ 60 min·d-1 for PA opportunities (24.8–25.1 min·d-1 for boys and 17.1–19.4 min·d-1 for girls) versus ASPs allocating ≤ 45 min·d-1 for PA opportunities (19.7 min·d-1 and 15.6 min·d-1 for boys and girls, respectively). There were no differences in the amount of MVPA accumulated by children among ASPs that allocated 60 min·d-1 (24.8 min·d-1 for boys and 17.1 min·d-1 for girls), 75 min·d-1 (25.1 min·d-1 for boys and 19.4 min·d-1 for girls) or ≥ 105 min·d-1 (23.8 min·d-1 for boys and 17.8 min·d-1 for girls). Across ASPs, 26% of children (31% for boys and 14% for girls) met the recommended 30 minutes of MVPA.

Conclusions:

Allocating more than 1 hour of PA opportunities is not associated with an increase in MVPA during ASPs. Allocating 60 min·d-1, in conjunction with enhancing PA opportunities, can potentially serve to maximize children’s accumulation of MVPA during ASPs.

Brazendale (brazendk@e-mail.sc.edu), Beets, and Pate are with the Dept of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. Weaver is with the Dept of Physical Education, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. Huberty is with the Dept of Exercise and Wellness, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ. Beighle is with the Dept of Kinesiology & Health Promotion, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY.