Energy Cost of Free-Play Activities in 10- to 11-Year-Old Children

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health


This study sought to ascertain the energy expenditure (EE) associated with different sedentary and physically active free-play activities in primary school-aged children.


Twenty-eight children (13 boys; 11.4 ± 0.3 years; 1.45 ± 0.09 m; 20.0 ± 4.7 kg·m-2) from 1 primary school in Northwest England engaged in 6 activities representative of children’s play for 10 minutes (drawing, watching a DVD, playground games and free-choice) and 5 minutes (self-paced walking and jogging), with 5 minutes rest between each activity. Gas exchange variables were measured throughout. Resting energy expenditure was measured during 15 minutes of supine rest.


Child (Schofield-predicted) MET values for watching a DVD, self-paced jogging and playing reaction ball were significantly higher for girls (P < .05).


Utilizing a field-based protocol to examine children’s free-living behaviors, these data contribute to the scarcity of information concerning children’s EE during play to update the Compendium of Energy Expenditures for Youth.

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Mackintosh is with the College of Engineering, Swansea University, United Kingdom. Ridley is with the Sport, Health, and Physical Education (SHAPE) Research Centre, Flinders University, Australia. Stratton is with the Applied Sports Technology Exercise and Medicine Research Centre, Swansea University, United Kingdom. Ridgers ( is with the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin University, Australia.