The Contribution of Recess to Children’s School-Day Physical Activity

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year online subscription

USD  $119.00

1 year online subscription

USD  $159.00

Student 2 year online subscription

USD  $227.00

2 year online subscription

USD  $302.00


Recess is an important component of a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program, providing approximately 1268 and 914 steps for boys and girls, respectively, within a 15-minute time period. The purpose of this study was to determine the contribution of unstructured recess on children’s school-day physical activity levels and to examine if recess and school-day physical activity levels varied by BMI, gender, and grade level.


One-hundred sixty third- to fifth-grade students from 2 elementary schools wore pedometers during 4 recess periods.


Recess accounted for 17% to 44% of school-day step counts. There was a significant main effect for grade level, but not for BMI or gender, on the percentage of school-day steps accumulated during recess.


A 15-minute recess makes a valuable contribution to children’s school-day physical activity, especially for the least active children. More research is warranted to determine environmental influences on children’s recess physical activity.

The authors are with the Dept of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY.