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Ang Chen

School is an environment where children and adolescents spend most of their time during the day. The environment is characterized by a sedentary culture necessary for academic learning. In this article, I present research evidence showing the effects of four physical activity opportunities in this environment: school athletics, recess, classroom physical activity breaks, and physical education. Based on an analysis of research evidence on the four opportunities, I propose that the efforts to promote the opportunities should be coordinated into a concerted action to integrate a physical activity-friendly culture in the sedentary environment. Using an example of China's whole-school physical activity promotion strategy, I identify four areas for us to continue to work on: legislature-based policies, physical education as core content, creation and maintenance of physical activity traditions in schools, and integration of physical activity-friendly culture into the sedentary school environment.

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Inas Rashad Kelly, Mary Ann Phillips, Michelle Revels and Dawud Ujamaa

Background:

This study analyzed the effect of school practices regarding the provision of physical education (PE) on the physical fitness of children and youth.

Methods:

Using an untapped sample of approximately 5000 5th and 7th graders from 93 schools in Georgia in 2006, individual-level and merged school-level data on physical education were analyzed. Multivariate regression analyses were conducted to estimate the potential influence of the school environment on measured health outcomes. Controls were included for grade, gender, race/ethnicity, urbanicity, and county of residence.

Results:

Variables measuring 8 school-level practices pertaining to physical education were found to have significant effects on cardiovascular fitness as measured by the FitnessGram, with signs in the expected direction. These variables, combined with demographic variables, explained 29.73% of the variation in the Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run but only 4.53% of the variation in the body mass index.

Conclusions:

School-level variables pertaining to PE practices were collectively strong predictors of physical fitness, particularly cardiovascular fitness. Schools that adopt these policies will likely encourage favorable physical activity habits that may last into adulthood. Future research should examine the causal relationships among physical education practices, physical activity, and health outcomes.

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Chanam Lee, Hyung Jin Kim, Diane M. Dowdy, Deanna M. Hoelscher and Marcia G. Ory

Background:

Several environmental audit instruments have been developed for assessing streets, parks and trails, but none for schools. This paper introduces a school audit tool that includes 3 subcomponents: 1) street audit, 2) school site audit, and 3) map audit. It presents the conceptual basis and the development process of this instrument, and the methods and results of the reliability assessments.

Methods:

Reliability tests were conducted by 2 trained auditors on 12 study schools (high-low income and urban-suburban-rural settings). Kappa statistics (categorical, factual items) and ICC (Likert-scale, perceptual items) were used to assess a) interrater, b) test-retest, and c) peak vs. off-peak hour reliability tests.

Results:

For the interrater reliability test, the average Kappa was 0.839 and the ICC was 0.602. For the test-retest reliability, the average Kappa was 0.903 and the ICC was 0.774. The peak–off peak reliability was 0.801. Rural schools showed the most consistent results in the peak–off peak and test-retest assessments. For interrater tests, urban schools showed the highest ICC, and rural schools showed the highest Kappa.

Conclusions:

Most items achieved moderate to high levels of reliabilities in all study schools. With proper training, this audit can be used to assess school environments reliably for research, outreach, and policy-support purposes.

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Teatske Altenburg, Saskia te Velde, Kai-Jan Chiu, George Moschonis, Yannis Manios, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, Frøydis N. Vik, Nanna Lien, Johannes Brug and Mai Chinapaw

Background:

The school environment can play an important role in the prevention of childhood overweight and obesity. Photos of the school environment may contribute to more adequate measurement of the school environment, as photos can be rated by different assessors. We aimed to examine the interrater reliability for rating characteristics of primary school environments related to physical activity and eating.

Methods:

Photos taken at 172 primary schools in 7 European countries were rated according to a standardized protocol. Briefly, after categorizing all photos in subsections of physical activity or eating opportunities, 2 researchers independently rated aspects of safety, functionality, aesthetics, type of food/drinks advertised, type/variety of foods provided. Interrater reliability was assessed using the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and Cohen’s kappa.

Results:

Six subsections of the photo-rating instrument showed excellent (ICC or Cohen’s kappa ≥0.81) or good (ICC or Cohen’s kappa 0.61 to 0.80) interrater reliability. Outdoor physical activity facilities (ICC = 0.54) showed moderate, and school canteens (Cohen’s kappa = 0.05) and vending machines showed poor (Cohen’s kappa = 0.16) interrater reliability.

Conclusion:

Interrater reliability of the ENERGY (EuropeaN Energy balance Research to prevent excessive weight Gain among Youth) photo-rating instrument was good-to-excellent for 6 out of 9 characteristics of primary school environment components related to physical activity and eating.

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Karen Martin, Alexandra Bremner, Jo Salmon, Michael Rosenberg and Billie Giles-Corti

Background:

The objective of this study was to develop a multidomain model to identify key characteristics of the primary school environment associated with children’s physical activity (PA) during class-time.

Methods:

Accelerometers were used to calculate time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity during class-time (CMVPA) of 408 sixth-grade children (mean ± SD age 11.1 ± 0.43 years) attending 27 metropolitan primary schools in Perth Western Australia. Child and staff self-report instruments and a school physical environment scan administered by the research team were used to collect data about children and the class and school environments. Hierarchical modeling identified key variables associated with CMVPA.

Results:

The final multilevel model explained 49% of CMVPA. A physically active physical education (PE) coordinator, fitness sessions incorporated into PE sessions and either a trained PE specialist, classroom teacher or nobody coordinating PE in the school, rather than the deputy principal, were associated with higher CMVPA. The amount of grassed area per student and sporting apparatus on grass were also associated with higher CMVPA.

Conclusion:

These results highlight the relevance of the school’s sociocultural, policy and physical environments in supporting class-based PA. Interventions testing optimization of the school physical, sociocultural and policy environments to support physical activity are warranted.

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Brendon Hyndman

Background:

There is more demand than ever for schools to equip children with the necessary skills to be physically active. The purpose of the Environmental Perceptions Investigation of Children’s Physical Activity (EPIC-PA) study was to investigate elementary and secondary school children’s perceptions to enhance the school physical activity environment.

Methods:

Four Australian government schools (2 elementary and 2 secondary) were recruited for the EPIC-PA study. During the study, 78 children were recruited aged 10 to 13 years. The focus group discussions consisted of 54 children (32 elementary and 22 secondary) and the map drawing sessions included 24 children (17 elementary and 7 secondary).

Results:

The findings from the EPIC-PA study revealed insight into uniquely desired features to encourage physical activity such as adventure physical activity facilities (eg, rock climbing walls), recreational physical activity facilities (eg, jumping pillows), physical activity excursions, animal activity programs and teacher-directed activities. In addition to specific features, childrens revealed a host of policies for equipment borrowing, access to sports equipment/areas, music during physical activity time and external physical education lessons.

Conclusions:

Understanding the multiple suggestions from children of features to enhance physical activity can be used by schools and researchers to create environments conducive to physical activity participation.

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Erin K. Sharpe, Scott Forrester and James Mandigo

Background:

This paper evaluates the impact of a large-scale, community agency-driven initiative to increase physical activity (PA) in after-school programs in Ontario. In 2008, the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club (BGC) introduced CATCH Kids Club (CKC) into 330 after-school program sites.

Methods:

This study assessed the impact of the intervention on the quality and quantity of PA using a pretest/posttest quasi-experimental research design with a comparison non-CKC group. Data were collected at baseline (September 2008) and postintervention (May/June 2009) using the System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time (SOFIT).

Results:

Nearly all sites, with the exception of the BGC baseline program (a sports program) achieved greater than 50% of time spent in MVPA. Significant differences were not found between levels of MVPA at CKC and comparison sites (59.3% vs. 64.2%), or at CKC sites at baseline versus postintervention (59.3% vs. 52.1%). BGC sites had significantly higher levels MVPA in CKC programs than in sports programs (70.8% vs. 35.2%). In postimplementation interviews, leaders reported general support but some mixed reactions related to how the program was received by participants.

Conclusions:

This paper offers support for PA programs that focus on inclusivity and enjoyment and emphasize the important role of staff competency.

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Anna E. Chalkley, Ash C. Routen, Jo P. Harris, Lorraine A. Cale, Trish Gorely and Lauren B. Sherar

participation, logistics and suitability of the school environment, and appropriateness of MK resources (see Supplementary Material 2 [available online] for a summary of the generated themes). Provided illustrative quotes are predominantly from children in older year groups. There were no marked differences

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Erika Rees-Punia, Alicia Holloway, David Knauft and Michael D. Schmidt

reduced funding for equipment contributing to less physical education time, there is a clear need for the creation of additional opportunities for physical activity within the school environment. 9 School gardening has the potential to displace some classroom sedentary time with more physically active

Open access

Viviene A. Temple, Dawn L. Lefebvre, Stephanie C. Field, Jeff R. Crane, Beverly Smith and Patti-Jean Naylor

of time at school, and schools have been identified as environments that can influence health behaviors such as physical activity both at school and beyond the school environment ( Ball, Timperio, & Crawford, 2006 ). More importantly, they provide equitable access to physical development