The promotion of physical activity among young children has become a universal challenge. Children spend large amounts of time in school, making it an attractive setting in which to promote positive health behaviors. The purpose of this study was to investigate school-based physical activity behavior and its determinants in young Irish children.
Participants self-reported school-based free-play activity, commuting to school behavior, and levels of enjoyment of physical education and physical activity.
Data were collected from 605 children, mean age was 8.8 years (±2.2; range 5−14 years), 44% were female. Thirty-nine percent of children actively commuted to school, with 40% of males compared with 34.8% of females walking to school. Boys reported more physically active free-play activity (88.6% at break and 90.9% at lunch time) compared with girls (70.8% and 83.7% respectively). Physical education was a top 3 favorite subject for 78% of children and 50.7% reported they would prefer to take part in more active pastimes directly after school.
Strategies for increasing active commuting are required. Boys and girls are more alike than unlike in their behaviors and attitudes. Teachers should capitalize on the fact that children’s favorite subject is physical education to promote physical activity.