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Boys are typically more physically active than girls, but schools have the potential to promote health-related physical activity for all children. This study investigated gender differences in children’s physical activity levels during physical education (PE) classes and unstructured recess periods. The activity levels of 91 fifth-grade children were assessed by accelerometer (Caltrac) on 3 days. Results indicated that children’s activity levels were low to moderately stable from day to day in both environments. Boys and girls had similar activity levels during PE, t(89) = 1.49, p = .140, but boys were significantly more active than girls during recess, t(89) = 3.27, p = .002. Girls were significantly more active during PE than they were at recess, t(51) = 2.08, p = .043. The results suggest that structured PE classes may provide similar amounts of physical activity for both genders.
Julie A. Sarkin is with the San Diego State University Foundation, 6363 Alvarado Court, Suite 250, San Diego, CA 92120. Thomas L. McKenzie is with the Department of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences at San Diego State University. James F. Sallis is with the Department of Psychology at San Diego State University.