Children's physical activity during recess and outside of school

J Sch Health. 2006 Dec;76(10):516-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.2006.00151.x.


The purpose of this study was to examine children's physical activity during recess and outside of school. Third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students (N = 270; 121 boys, age = 9.5 +/- 0.9 years; 150 girls, age = 9.6 +/- 0.9 years) wore sealed pedometers during a 15-minute recess period and outside of school for 4 consecutive school days. A factorial analysis of variance (grade by gender) was used to examine differences among grades and between genders for the following variables: recess activity time (RAT), recess step counts (RSC), out-of-school activity time (OAT), and out-of-school step counts (OSC). For all outcome variables, there were no significant interactions between grade and gender and no significant main effect for grade. A significant main effect for gender (F(1,264)= 73.1, p < .001) indicated that boys accumulated more RSC and OSC than girls (1268 +/- 341 vs 914 +/- 261 and 7229 +/- 2877 vs 5808 +/- 2059, respectively) and more RAT and OAT than girls (11.7 +/- 2.4 vs 9.4 +/- 2.2 and 77.3 +/- 28 vs 67.4 +/- 21, respectively). Boys spent 78% and girls spent 63% of their recess time engaged in physical activity. Outside of school, girls spent 20% and boys spent 25% of their time engaged in physical activity. RAT comprised 14% and 16% of total discretionary activity time for girls and boys, respectively. Boys in this study are more active during discretionary time periods compared to girls. Study participants spent the majority of their recess time engaged in physical activity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Schools
  • Sex Factors