Evaluation of a Policy to Integrate Physical Activity Into the School Day

BACKGROUND:  Implementing physical activity (PA) within academic curricula increases energy expenditure and enhances academic achievement in elementary students. The purposes of the study were to determine the extent teachers met the 20-minute PA policy, identify how teachers met the policy, and measure the level of intensity of PA provided.

  • METHODS:  Four elementary schools (grades K-5; 68 classroom teachers) implemented a district-mandated 20-minute PA policy. Teachers recorded PA for 1 week in September 2010 and February 2011. A sample of 142 students (grades K-5) wore accelerometers to measure school day PA.
  • RESULTS:  While 40% and 4% of teachers in September and February respectively met the policy all 5 days, 72.5% and 45.7% of teachers in September and February respectively implemented PA at least 3 days/week. Accelerometry results indicated curriculum-based lessons (CBL; 59.92 ± 20.38 min) or walk/run periods (51.56 ± 18.67 min) significantly increased school day MVPA (P < .05) above no additional activity (30.96 ± 22.57 min).
  • CONCLUSIONS:  Although the teachers did not meet the 20-minute policy every day, the increased amount of PA achieved each week through the teachers' efforts is a significant contributor to total daily PA levels of children.

Holt E, Bartee T, Heelan K. (2013). Evaluation of a policy to integrate physical activity into the school day. J Phys Act Health, 10(4), 480-487. 

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