Before-school running/walking club: Effects on student on-task behavior

Michalis Stylianou, Pamela Kulinna, Hans Van Der Mars, Matthew T. Mahar, Marc Adams, Eric Amazeen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Before-school programs provide a good opportunity for children to engage in physical activity (PA) as well as improve their readiness to learn. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of a before-school running/walking club on elementary school children's on-task behavior. The study employed a two-phase experimental design with an initial baseline phase followed by an alternating treatments phase, and was first conducted at a private school (School A) and subsequently replicated at a public school (School B). Participants were third and fourth grade children from two schools in the Southwestern U.S. who participated in a before-school running/walking club that met two times each week (School A: 20 min; School B: 15 min) during the 2013/2014 academic year. Participation in the program was monitored using pedometers and on-task behavior was assessed through direct observation. Data analyses included visual analysis, Tau-index, and multilevel modeling. Results from all analyses indicated that on-task behavior was significantly higher on days the children attended the before-school program than on days they did not. According to multilevel modeling results, mean differences and effect sizes were: School A = 15.78%, pseudo-R2 = .34 [strong effect]; School B = 14.26%, pseudo-R2 = .22 [moderate effect]. Results provide evidence for the positive impact of before-school PA programs on children's classroom behavior and readiness to learn. Such programs do not take time away from academics and may be an attractive option for schools. Results also have implications for the structure of children's school day and the scheduling of PA opportunities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-202
Number of pages7
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Classroom behavior
  • Elementary school
  • Physical activity program

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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