Recess Behaviors of Urban Children 16 Months After a Green Schoolyard Renovation

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Green schoolyard renovations lead to immediate positive changes in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and social behavior. This pilot study examines whether these benefits are equally distributed across gender and age and maintained 16 months postgreening. Methods: Physical activity and social interactions during recess were recorded at control (n = 389) and experimental (n = 642) Title I urban elementary schools with direct observation and accelerometers. Results: Activity profiles were similar to 4-month postgreening and to baseline for experimental girls and boys, respectively. There was no difference in MVPA minutes between sexes (girls = 11.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 11.1 to 12.5]; boys = 12.8; 95% CI, 12.0 to 13.4) and no difference in sitting minutes between age groups (first to fourth = 2.0; 95% CI, 1.5 to 2.6; fifth to sixth = 1.8; 95% CI, 1.1 to 2.4) in green areas. Experimental students spent more time in MVPA (11.2 min; 95% CI, 10.6 to 11.8 vs 8.9 min; 95% CI, 8.3 to 9.3), in small groups (10.6 min; 95% CI, 10.2 to 11.0 vs 9.2 min; 95% CI, 8.5 to 9.9), and engaged in more prosocial interactions (5.5; 95% CI, 5.1 to 6.3 vs 3.7; 95% CI, 3.0 to 4.2) than control students. Conclusions: Green schoolyard renovations result in persistent changes to recess behavior that are characteristic of a more collaborative community and counteract age-related declines in MVPA, particularly for girls.

The authors are with the Department of Kinesiology, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Raney (raney@oxy.edu) corresponding author.
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