Increasing children's physical activity levels during recess periods in elementary schools: the effects of providing game equipment

Eur J Public Health. 2006 Aug;16(4):415-9. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckl008. Epub 2006 Jan 23.


Background: During recess, children can be active on a daily basis, making it an important school environmental factor for the promotion of health-related physical activity. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of providing game equipment on children's physical activity levels during morning recess and lunch break in elementary schools.

Methods: Seven elementary schools were randomly assigned to the intervention group (four schools), including 122 children (75 boys, 47 girls, mean age: 10.8 +/- 0.6 years), and to the control group (three schools), including 113 children (46 boys, 67 girls, mean age: 10.9 +/- 0.7 years). Children's activity levels were measured before and three months after providing game equipment, using MTI accelerometers.

Results: During lunch break, children's moderate and vigorous physical activity significantly increased in the intervention group (moderate: from 38 to 50%, vigorous: from 10 to 11%), while it decreased in the control group (moderate: from 44 to 39%, vigorous: from 11 to 5%). At morning recess, providing game equipment was effective in increasing children's moderate physical activity (from 41 to 45%), while it decreased in the control group (from 41 to 34%).

Conclusion: Providing game equipment during recess periods was found to be effective in increasing children's physical activity levels. This finding suggests that promoting physical activity through game equipment provision during recess periods can contribute to reach the daily activity levels recommended for good health.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Belgium
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Play and Playthings*
  • Schools*