Physical educators have purported to teach children to be physically active and to promote their fitness. To achieve these goals, children should regularly experience moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during physical education lessons. For the purposes of this review, moderate physical activity is that which elicits a heart rate of 50% of maximum heart rate reserve (MHRR), moderate-to-vigorous activity elicits 60% of MHRR, and vigorous activity elicits 75% of MHRR. Duration criteria were set at 50% of lesson time or 20 min. The majority of lessons described in previous reports failed to achieve these criteria, although problems were noted in method and analyses of data. Lessons with physical activity as a direct goal have been successful in increasing MVPA. A greater focus on physical activity is required in the planning and delivery of physical education lessons if the physical activity and fitness goals of the physical education curriculum are to be met.
The purpose of this study was to assess the physical activity levels of schoolchildren during physical education lessons, using heart rate telemetry. Girls (n = 108) and boys (n = 69), age 9 to 15 years, were assessed over 66 physical education lessons. Lessons that achieved a heart rate (HR) of ≥ 150 bpm for 20 minutes or 50% of lesson time were deemed sufficiently active to promote cardiorespiratory fitness. Netball, 11- to 12-year-old girls’ gymnastics, and soccer lessons achieved the HR ≥ 150 level for over 50% of lesson time. A Sex × Age × Lesson Activity ANOVA indicated significant overall interaction for sex, age, and lesson activity for the percentage of lesson time spent in HR ≥ 150. Significant differences between age groups and lesson activities were evident. Invasion games seem more likely to attain MVPA goals than are dance, track and field, fitness, or gymnastics lessons.
Gareth Stratton and Janine Leonard
The energy expenditure of 47 children aged 5–7 years was assessed before and after a school playground was painted with fluorescent markings. Physical activity was measured using heart rate monitors and energy expenditure calculated for 3 playtimes per child before and after the playground was painted. Total energy expenditure and the rate of energy expenditure increased significantly, as did the duration of play. The effect of painting the playground on total energy expenditure was analysed using an ANCOVA to control for play duration and body mass. Results revealed a 35% increase in total energy expenditure (P £ .01) and a 6% increase in the rate of energy expenditure (P £ .01). The significant interaction between time (before and after) and group (experimental and control) (P £ .02) demonstrated that the intervention programme significantly increased heart rates. These results suggest that playground markings and duration of play can have a significant and positive influence on young children’s energy expenditure.
Stuart Fairclough and Gareth Stratton
Forty studies reporting physical activity during middle and high school physical education (PE) classes were reviewed. Students engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) for 27% to 47% of class time. Intervention strategies were successful in increasing MVPA. During nonintervention classes the highest levels of MVPA occurred in invasion games and fitness activities. Movement activities stimulated the lowest levels. Boys and girls spent 40% of class time in MVPA. Differences in MVPA during PE were also methodology dependent. PE classes can complement other school-based opportunities to contribute to young people’s daily physical activity.
Stuart Fairclough and Gareth Stratton
This study investigated the enjoyment and perceived competence of normal-weight (n = 48) and overweight (n = 20) adolescents during physical education (PE) classes. Amount of PE time spent in moderate-to-vigorous (MVPA) and vigorous physical activity (VPA), as well as cardiorespiratory fitness (graded treadmill test) and body composition (body mass index) were also compared. Normal-weight students reported the greatest values for enjoyment (p = .008) and perceived competence (p = .005), though no differences in MVPA and VPA were observed. Cardiorespiratory fitness was highest among normal-weight students (p < .0001). In comparison with normal-weight adolescents, overweight youth might not be provided with optimal psychological experiences during PE classes.
Nicola D. Ridgers and Gareth Stratton
Recess offers primary school age children the opportunity to engage in physical activity, though few studies have detailed the physical activity levels of children in this environment. The physical activity levels of 270 children ages 6-11 years from 18 schools were monitored on 1 school day using heart rate telemetry. Data revealed that boys engaged in higher levels of moderate-to-vigorous and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) than did girls during recess (26 and 20 min, respectively). These results suggest that recess can make a worthwhile contribution to the recommended 60 min of MVPA per day.
Stuart J. Fairclough and Gareth Stratton
Sarah Edmunds, Denise Roche, and Gareth Stratton
The current study objectively assessed physical activity (PA) levels and patterns in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes and compared the metabolic and physiologic health profiles of those achieving and those not achieving the current recommendation of 60 minutes a day (minutes·D−1) of at least moderate intensity PA.
37 children and adolescents (20 boys, 17 girls) aged 12.7 ± 2.1 years (mean ± SD), disease duration 5.9 ± 3.0 years participated. PA was assessed using heart rate monitoring. Peak VO2, BMI, sum of 5 skinfolds, HbA1c, and daily insulin dosage were also determined.
Mean accumulated time in moderate-to-vigorous intensity PA was 53.6 ± 31.4 minutes·D−1. Levels of vigorous-intensity PA were low, mean 8.3 ± 10.2 minutes·D−1. When controlling for age, no differences in metabolic or physiologic health outcomes were evident between those individuals achieving, and those not achieving, 60 minutes·D−1 of moderate-to-vigorous intensity PA. PA predominantly occurred in short bouts lasting 5 minutes or less.
The efficacy of accumulating 60 minutes·D−1 of moderate-to-vigorous intensity PA, in the form of short duration, intermittent bouts of largely unplanned PA, to promote health gains in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes is questionable.
Zoe Rebecca Knowles, Daniel Parnell, Gareth Stratton, and Nicola Diane Ridgers
Qualitative research into the effect of school recess on children’s physical activity is currently limited. This study used a write and draw technique to explore children’s perceptions of physical activity opportunities during recess.
299 children age 7−11 years from 3 primary schools were enlisted. Children were grouped into Years 3 & 4 and Years 5 & 6 and completed a write and draw task focusing on likes and dislikes. Pen profiles were used to analyze the data.
Results indicated ‘likes’ focused on play, positive social interaction, and games across both age groups but showed an increasing dominance of games with an appreciation for being outdoors with age. ‘Dislikes’ focused on dysfunctional interactions linked with bullying, membership, equipment, and conflict for playground space. Football was a dominant feature across both age groups and ‘likes/dislikes’ that caused conflict and dominated the physically active games undertaken.
Recess was important for the development of conflict management and social skills and contributed to physical activity engagement. The findings contradict suggestions that time spent in recess should be reduced because of behavioral issues.
Nicola D. Ridgers, Stuart J. Fairclough, and Gareth Stratton
Recess is an opportunity for children to engage in daily physical activity. The aim of this study was to investigate the 12-month effects of a playground intervention on children’s moderate-to-vigorous (MVPA) and vigorous physical activity (VPA) during morning and lunchtime recess.
Four hundred and seventy children (232 boys, 238 girls) from 26 elementary schools participated in the study. Fifteen schools redesigned the playground environment using playground markings and physical structures. Eleven schools served as socioeconomic matched controls. Physical activity levels were quantified using heart rate and accelerometry at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months post-intervention. A 3-level (time, pupil, and school) multilevel analysis was used to determine the effects of the intervention across time on MVPA and VPA.
Positive yet nonsignificant intervention effects were found for MVPA and VPA during morning and lunchtime recess. Intervention children were more active during recess than control children. Interactions revealed that the intervention effect was stronger at 6 months than 12 months post-intervention.
A playground markings and physical structures intervention had a positive effect on intervention children’s morning and lunchtime MVPA and VPA when assessed using heart rate and accelerometry, but this effect is strongest 6-months post-intervention and decreased between 6 months and 12 months.