Increasing Physical Activity Through Recess

Regular physical activity can reduce children’s risk of obesity and improve their classroom performance, but many schools provide few opportunities for students to be active. Schools can provide excellent opportunities for children to be physically active through regular recess. 

The research report Increasing Physical Activity Through Recess summarizes the growing body of research examining recess, which shows that providing recess during the school day is an effective and efficient way to increase physical activity and improve academic performance among children. Key findings and recommendations include:

  • Providing recess breaks throughout the day can improve students’ classroom behavior and attentiveness.
  • Children can accumulate up to 40 percent of their total daily physical activity during recess.
  • There are many effective strategies for increasing children’s levels of physical activity during recess, including inexpensive playground equipment, interactive games with recess supervisors, painted playground surfaces, and designating space for “activity zones”.
  • The number of school districts that require or recommend daily recess may be decreasing.
  • Children at high risk for obesity are least likely to have recess.
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