Preliminary Evidence for School-Based Physical Activity Policy Needs in Washington, DC

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

The school setting could be a primary venue for promoting physical activity among inner-city children due to the structured natured of the school day. We examined differences in step counts between structured school days (SSD) and weekend days (WED) among a sample of public school children in Washington, DC.

Methods:

Subjects (N = 29) were third- to sixth-grade students enrolled in government-funded, extended-day enrichment programs. Step counts were measured using a pedometer (Bodytronics) over 2 SSD and 2 WED. Differences in mean step counts between SSD and WED were determined using multivariable linear regression, with adjustments for age, sex, and reported distance between house and school (miles).

Results:

Recorded step counts were low on both SSD and WED (7735 ± 3540 and 8339 ± 5314 steps/day). Boys tended to record more steps on SSD compared with girls (8080 ± 3141 vs. 7491 ± 3872 steps/day, respectively), whereas girls recorded more steps on the WED compared with boys (9292 ± 6381 vs. 7194 ± 3669 steps/day). Parameter estimates from the regression modeling suggest distance from school (P < .01) to be the strongest predictor of daily step counts, independent of day (SSD/WED), sex, and age.

Conclusion:

Among inner-city school children, a safe walking route to and from school may provide an important opportunity for daily physical activity.

Goodman and DiPietro are with the Dept of Exercise Science, The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, Washington, DC. Evans is with the Dept of Prevention and Community Health, The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, Washington, DC.

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