Impact of recess interventions on children's physical activity-A meta-analysis

Heather E. Erwin, Melinda Ickes, Soyeon Ahn, Alicia Fedewa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Objective. The purpose of this paper was to explore the effect of recess interventions on children's physical activity (PA) levels and to examine which specific interventions/ characteristics have more influence on children's PA Data Source. Academic Search Premier, CINAHL, ERIC, MEDLINE, ProQuest, SPORT Discus Study Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria. Papers published between 1986 and 2012, published in the English language, and evaluating any recess intervention with PA as an outcome Data Extraction. Study outcomes were distilled into seven domains related to PA: age, gender, intervention type, intervention duration, duration of PA per intervention session, outcome measures, and study region Data Synthesis. Effect sizes were pooled within and across studies for each domain separately. Moderator analyses were performed using gender, age, and total length of intervention. Twenty-three independent samples were provided from 13 studies. Results. The estimated overall effect size for time in PA was 56 (SE .07), suggesting a positive and significant mean difference between pretest and posttest PA time after implementing a recess intervention. Differences in PA levels were moderated by age, duration and type of intervention, and type of outcome measures. Conclusion. The limited evidence suggests recess interventions can improve youth PA levels. Implications reinforce the importance of schools in advocating for recess during the school day. Strategies shown to increase student PA during recess should be implemented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-167
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Elementary School
  • Playtime
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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