School opportunities and physical activity frequency in nine year old children

Int J Public Health. 2009;54(3):150-7. doi: 10.1007/s00038-009-7110-0.


Objective: To examine the association between physical activity (PA) opportunities at school and participation in PA outside of school physical education (PE) classes among 9 year old children.

Methods: Data were obtained in a representative sample of 1 267 students nested within 69 schools who completed questionnaires; principals provided data on schools. Students' PA frequency was defined as all reported episodes of past week PA, excluding PE class. Schools were categorized as "high-opportunity" if they provided > or = 4 of the following opportunities: PE class > or = 2 times/week, extracurricular sports animator, gymnasium, swimming pool, schoolyard equipped for games, and > or = 1 outdoor sports playing fields. Multilevel modelling techniques were used to investigate the association between school-level PA opportunity and student-level PA frequency.

Results: No main effect of school-level PA opportunities on PA frequency was observed. However, overweight boys attending high-opportunity schools were significantly more active than those attending low-opportunity schools.

Conclusions: The association between PA frequency and school-level PA opportunity differs by sex and weight status. Overweight boys in particular may benefit from health promotion strategies providing greater opportunities for school PA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Multilevel Analysis
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Obesity / rehabilitation
  • Physical Education and Training / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quebec
  • School Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sports / statistics & numerical data
  • Sports Equipment / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires