Introduction: Despite well-documented evidence that physical activity is beneficial to children, average fitness levels of US children have declined. Lack of physical activity has been associated with childhood obesity. We evaluated the effects of a physical activity program in the elementary school classroom on health outcomes.
Methods: Three schools in the Independence School District in Independence, Missouri, were assigned to receive the ABC (Activity Bursts in the Classroom) for Fitness program, and 2 comparable schools served as controls. The program, led by classroom teachers, provides multiple, brief, structured physical activity breaks throughout the day. Baseline data for the study were collected in September 2007, and follow-up data were collected in April 2008.
Results: Physical fitness measures of upper-body strength, abdominal strength, and trunk extensor improved (P <.001). Medication use for asthma (P = .03), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (P = .07), or either medication combined (P = .005) decreased.
Conclusion: The effects of the program on daily physical activity, fitness, and measures of health are beneficial.