Physical activity and school recess time: differences between the sexes and the relationship between children's playground physical activity and habitual physical activity

J Sports Sci. 2005 Mar;23(3):269-75. doi: 10.1080/02640410410001730124.


The aims of this study were: (1) to observe participation in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during school recess periods; (2) to determine the relative importance of physical activity during recesses to overall daily physical activity; and (3) to examine differences in physical activity between the sexes during unstructured recess periods. The participants were 22 school children (10 boys, 12 girls) aged 8 - 10 years (mean = 8.9, s = 0.7) in the third and fourth grades. Daily totals for the physical activity variables were calculated by summing the values for each hour of 14 h of physical activity measurements (08:00 to 22:00 h). Recess times (minutes) were as follows: morning 10:30 to 11:00 h and afternoon 15:30 to 16:00 h. We did not differences between boys and girls in daily total accelerometer counts or the overall time spent in MVPA. However, girls were significantly (P < 0.05) more involved (38%) in MVPA during recess time than boys (31%). Participation in MVPA during recess contributes significantly more (P < 0.05) for girls (19%) than boys (15%) to the total amount of physical activity suggested by international health-related physical activity guidelines, while the percentage of time engaged in MVPA during recess time at school accounts for a small amount of the daily MVPA (6% for boys and 8% for girls). The results of this study suggest that school recess time is an important setting to promote MVPA and contributes to daily physical activity in young children, especially in girls.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Body Size
  • Child
  • Female
  • Habits*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory
  • Motor Activity*
  • Play and Playthings*
  • Schools / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors