The Effectiveness of Equipment Provisions on Rural Middle School Students’ Physical Activity During Lunch Recess

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Environmental provisions can boost students’ discretionary participation in physical activity (PA) during lunchtime at school. This study investigated the effectiveness of providing PA equipment as an environmental intervention on middle school students’ PA levels and stakeholders’ perceptions of the effectiveness of equipment provisions during school lunch recess. Methods: A baseline–intervention research design was used in this study with a first baseline phase followed by an intervention phase (ie, equipment provision phase). A total of 514 students at 2 middle schools (school 1 and school 2) in a rural area of the western United States were observed directly using the System for Observing Play and Leisure Activity in Youth instrument. Interviews were conducted with stakeholders. Paired-sample t tests and visual analysis were conducted to explore differences in PA levels by gender, and common comparison (with trustworthiness measures) was used with the interview data. Results: The overall percentage of moderate to vigorous PA levels was increased in both schools (ranging from 8.0% to 24.0%). In school 2, there was a significant difference in seventh- and eighth-grade students’ moderate to vigorous PA levels from the baseline. Three major themes were identified: (1) unmotivated, (2) unequipped, and (3) unquestionable changes (with students becoming more active). Conclusions: Environmental supports (access, equipment, and supervision) significantly and positively influenced middle school students’ lunchtime PA levels.

Yu and Kulinna are with the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Learning, Literacies, and Technologies Program, Arizona State University, Mesa, AZ, USA. Mulhearn is with the Kinesiology & Sport Sciences Department/Health and Physical Education Program, University of Nebraska-Kearney, Kearney, NE, USA.

Yu (hyeonhoy@asu.edu) is corresponding author.
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