Teacher-Level Factors, Classroom Physical Activity Opportunities, and Children’s Physical Activity Levels

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Classroom-based physical activity (CBPA) breaks are a cost-effective strategy to promote physical activity (PA) at school. Despite teachers’ critical roles in sustained implementation of CBPA breaks, few studies examined the association of teacher-level factors with student PA levels, and none focused on rural schools. Methods: We monitored children’s PA levels over 4 consecutive school days at 6 rural Oregon elementary schools with Walk4Life pedometers. During the same week, teachers recorded all student PA opportunities (recess, PE, and CBPA breaks) and answered a 26-item questionnaire about factors influencing their use of CBPA breaks. Mixed-effects models were used to associate teacher-level factors and PA opportunities with children’s moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA; in minutes per day), controlling for child-level covariates. Results: When teachers valued PA, students accumulated more MVPA (1.07 min/d; P < .01) than students of teachers reporting low PA value. Students did more MVPA (1 min/d; P < .001) when teachers agreed the school operating conditions posed barriers to providing PA than when teachers disagreed that barriers existed. PE classes contributed significantly to student’s PA levels. Conclusion: Provision of PE, increasing teacher value for PA, and further investigation of how teacher-level factors relate to students’ MVPA levels during CBPA breaks at rural elementary schools are warranted.

Abi Nader is with the Université de Moncton, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada; Centre de Formation Médicale du Nouveau-Brunswick, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada; and Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada. Hilberg, Schuna, John, and Gunter are with the Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.

Abi Nader (Patrick.Abi.Nader@umoncton.ca) is corresponding author.
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