Preschoolers’ Time On-Task and Physical Activity During a Classroom Activity Break

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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  • 1 University of Michigan
  • | 2 Auburn University
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This study examined the acute effects of a 10-min teacher-implemented classroom-based activity break (AB) on physical activity participation and time on-task in a preschool-age population. 118 (M age = 3.80 ± 0.69 years) students from one preschool served as participants. The intervention took place over 4 days: 2 days AB were conducted and 2 days typical instruction occurred. Physical activity was monitored via accelerometry and time on-task was measured by direct observation. Results demonstrated that AB led to a higher percent of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during the AB (M = 29.7%, p > .001). Breaks also promoted more on-task behavior (FU17 = 18.86, p > .001) following the AB. Specifically, the most off-task students before the break improved on-task behavior by 30 percentage points (p > .001). Percent of school day MVPA was also higher during AB days (i117 = 3.274, p = .001). Findings indicate teachers may improve time on-task postbreak for preschoolers with a short bout of physical activity in the classroom, especially in children who are the most off-task. In addition, classroom-based AB resulted in marginal increases in MVPA during breaks that influenced whole day activity.

Webster is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Wadsworth and Robinson are with the Dept. of Kinesiology, Auburn University, Auburn, AL.

Address author correspondence to Kip Webster at
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