The contribution of recess to children's school-day physical activity

Heather Erwin, Mark Abel, Aaron Beighle, Melody P. Noland, Brooke Worley, Richard Riggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Background: Recess is an important component of a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program, providing approximately 1268 and 914 steps for boys and girls, respectively, within a 15-minute time period. The purpose of this study was to determine the contribution of unstructured recess on children's school-day physical activity levels and to examine if recess and school-day physical activity levels varied by BMI, gender, and grade level. Methods: One-hundred sixty third- to fifth-grade students from 2 elementary schools wore pedometers during 4 recess periods. Results: Recess accounted for 17% to 44% of school-day step counts. There was a significant main effect for grade level, but not for BMI or gender, on the percentage of school-day steps accumulated during recess. Conclusions: A 15-minute recess makes a valuable contribution to children's school-day physical activity, especially for the least active children. More research is warranted to determine environmental influences on children's recess physical activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-448
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Activity and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012


  • Elementary
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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