Energy Expenditure and Intensity of Classroom Physical Activity in Elementary School Children

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health


There is limited data regarding objectively measured energy cost and intensity of classroom instruction. Therefore, the purpose of current study was to objectively measure energy cost and subsequently calculate MET values using a portable indirect calorimeter (IC) for both normal classroom instruction (NCI) and active classroom instruction (ACI).


We assessed energy expenditure (EE) and intensity levels (METs) in elementary school children (17 boys and 15 girls) using an IC (COSMED K4b2). Independent t-tests were used to evaluate potential sex and grade level differences for age, BMI, VO2, EE, and METs.


The average EE for NCI and ACI were 1.8 ± 0.4 and 3.9 ± 1.0, respectively. The average intensity level for NCI and ACI were 1.9 ± 0.4 and 4.2 ± 0.9 METs, respectively.


PA delivered through ACI can elicit EE at a moderate intensity level. These results provide evidence for ACI as a convenient/feasible avenue for increasing PA in youth without decreasing instruction time.

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Honas (, Willis, Washburn, and Donnelly are with the Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of Kansas Medical Center. Herrmann is with the Children’s Health Research Center, Sanford Research. Greene is with the Dept of Health, Sport, and Exercise Sciences, University of Kansas.