Assessing physical activity during recess using accelerometry

Prev Med. 2005 Jul;41(1):102-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.10.023. Epub 2004 Dec 18.


Background: Physical activity guidelines recommend children should engage in 60 min of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) a day. School recess presents an opportunity for children to be physically active during the school day. Limited research has investigated children's activity levels during recess and its contribution to physical activity recommendations. Moreover, no target for physical activity during recess has been set.

Methods: One hundred sixteen boys and 112 girls (aged 5-10 years) from 23 schools had their physical activity during recess quantified using a uniaxial accelerometer during three recess breaks on one school day. The percentage of time spent engaged in moderate, high, and very high intensity activity was calculated using existing thresholds.

Results: Boys engaged in more moderate, high, and very high intensity activity than girls. On average, boys and girls spent 32.9% and 23% of recess engaged in physical activity, respectively.

Conclusions: Boys engaged in higher intensity activities than girls. The results suggest that recess can contribute 28 min for boys and 21.5 min for girls toward the accumulation of recommended daily physical activity. However, the physical activity intensities that children engaged in were low during recess. On average, children in this study did not achieve 50% of recess time in physical activity. Interventions for increasing the physical activity of children in the playground are warranted.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Probability
  • School Health Services
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sex Factors
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Time Factors
  • United Kingdom