Academic-Based and Aerobic-Only Movement Breaks: Are There Differential Effects on Physical Activity and Achievement?

Alicia L. Fedewa, Elizabeth Fettrow, Heather Erwin, Soyeon Ahn, Minnah Farook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study investigated the academic achievement and physical activity differences between types of activity breaks implemented in elementary school classrooms. This study evaluated whether there was a difference between the impact of purely aerobic-based movement breaks and the impact of academic-based breaks on children’s academic achievement outcomes. Method: Participants included 460 children in 3rd grade through 5th grade at 4 elementary schools. There were 176 children in the schools that engaged in academic-based breaks and 284 in the schools that engaged in aerobic-only breaks. Schools were randomly assigned at the school level to implement either aerobic movement breaks with academic content infused within the breaks (“academic-based breaks”) or aerobic-only movement breaks without the addition of academic material (“aerobic-only breaks”) for approximately 10 min of activity per day. Math and reading achievement as well as children’s step counts were measured before and after the intervention. A mixed-effects (multilevel-growth) model, in which the repeated measures of individuals nested within a classroom are analyzed, was used to answer all posited research questions. Results: Small to moderate effect sizes (ES) indicating gains in reading achievement (ES =.13) and steps (ES =.33) were found for classrooms that used aerobic-only movement breaks compared with those that used academic-based breaks. Conclusions: The type of movement breaks that are implemented in classrooms may have differential outcomes for children’s achievement and activity levels. Results from the present study indicate that children who were given aerobic-only movement breaks had slightly larger gains in reading achievement and physical activity levels than children who were given academic-based breaks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-163
Number of pages11
JournalResearch Quarterly for Exercise and Sport
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 SHAPE America.


  • Children
  • classroom
  • cognition
  • learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Nephrology


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