An examination of four traditional school physical activity models on children's step counts and MVPA

Timothy A. Brusseau, Pamela Kulinna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Schools have been identified as primary societal institutions for promoting children's physical activity (PA); however, limited evidence exists demonstrating which traditional school-based PA models maximize children's PA. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare step counts and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) across 4 traditional school PA modules. Method: Step count and MVPA data were collected on 5 consecutive school days from 298 children (Mage = 10.0 ± 0.6 years; 55% female) in Grade 5. PA was measured using the NL-1000 piezoelectric pedometer. The 4 models included (a) recess only, (b) multiple recesses, (c) recess and physical education (PE), and (d) multiple recesses and PE. Results: Children accumulated the greatest PA on days that they had PE and multiple recess opportunities (5,242 ± 1,690 steps; 15.3 ± 8.8 min of MVPA). Children accumulated the least amount of PA on days with only 1 recess opportunity (3,312 ± 445 steps; 7.1 ± 2.3 min of MVPA). Across all models, children accumulated an additional 1,140 steps and 4.1 min of MVPA on PE days. Conclusions: It appears that PE is the most important school PA opportunity for maximizing children's PA. However, on days without PE, a 2nd recess can increase school PA by 20% (Δ = 850 steps; 3.8 min of MVPA).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-93
Number of pages6
JournalResearch Quarterly for Exercise and Sport
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2015


  • pedometer
  • physical education
  • recess
  • school health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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