School Day Energy Expenditure in Elementary School Children

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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The purpose was to characterize energy expenditure (EE) during academic subjects and activities during an elementary school day.


Children in 2nd to 4th grades (N = 33) wore the SenseWear Armband (SWA) for 5 school days to measure EE. Teachers’ logs were compared with SWA data to extract information about EE throughout the day. Energy expenditure was also compared among grades.


After controlling for body mass, grade level was not a significant predictor of average daily caloric expenditure, F (2, 17.58) = .29, P = .75, ω2 = .05. When comparing activities throughout the day, relative rates of EE differed significantly, Wilks’ F (7, 23) = 52.2, P = .00, ηp2 = .94, with PE and recess having higher EE. When academic subjects were compared (math, science, language arts), relative rate of EE was also significantly different, Wilks’ F (2, 30) = 4.31, P = .02, ηp2 = .22. For the full sample, relative rate EE was higher in science than in language arts.


The school day provides opportunity for EE for children. These data support the potential benefit of active instruction in language arts as a method to increase school day EE.

Huddleston, Barry, and Caputo are with the Dept of Health and Human Performance, Middle Tennessee State University.

Huddleston ( is corresponding author.