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David Martínez-Gómez, M. Andres Calabro, Gregory J. Welk, Ascension Marcos, and Oscar L. Veiga

Recess is a frequent target in school-based physical activity (PA) promotion research but there are challenges in assessing PA during this time period. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the reliability and validity of a recess PA recall (RPAR) instrument designed to assess total PA and time spent in moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) during recess. One hundred twenty-five 7th and 8th-grade students (59 females), age 12–14 years, participated in the study. Activity levels were objectively monitored on Mondays using different activity monitors (Yamax Digiwalker, Biotrainer and ActiGraph). On Tuesdays, 2 RPAR self-reports were administered within 1-hr. Test-retest reliability showed ICC = 0.87 and 0.88 for total PA and time spent in MVPA, respectively. The RPAR was correlated against Yamax (r = .35), Biotrainer (r = .40 and 0.54) and ActiGraph (r = .42) to assess total PA during recess. The RPAR was also correlated against ActiGraph (r = .54) to assess time spent in MVPA during recess. Mean difference between the RPAR and ActiGraph to assess time spent in MVPA during recess was no significant (2.15 ± 3.67 min, p = .313). The RPAR showed an adequate reliability and a reasonable validity for assessing PA during the school recess in youth.

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David Martinez-Gomez, Oscar Luis Veiga, Belen Zapatera, Sonia Gomez-Martinez, David Martínez, and Ascension Marcos


The morning recess period during school days represents a regular opportunity to accumulate physical activity (PA). However, little is known about the contribution of recess to PA guidelines (60 min/day in moderate-to-vigorous PA [MVPA]) in adolescents.


This study comprised 1065 Spanish adolescents (52% girls), aged 13 to 16 years. Adolescents completed a validated Recess PA Recall in 2007–2008. Differences in levels of PA during the recess period were analyzed by gender, age group, type of school, school location, immigrant status, weight status, fitness levels and snack eating during recess.


Adolescent boys spent more time in MVPA (7.7 vs. 6.4 min in MVPA, P = .009) and were more active (29.6% vs. 24.5% in MVPA, P = .007) than girls during the recess period. Adolescent boys in the youngest age group and with the school located in cities were more active than their peers (all P < .05). There were no differences in levels of PA during recess by all the descriptive characteristics in adolescent girls (all P > .05).


These findings suggest that recess in Spanish high schools may contribute to the daily recommended MVPA for adolescents, but greater efforts must be implemented to increase PA levels among adolescent girls during this school period.