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Effects of a Classroom-Based Program on Physical Activity and On-Task Behavior

MAHAR, MATTHEW T.1; MURPHY, SHEILA K.1; ROWE, DAVID A.1; GOLDEN, JEANNIE2; SHIELDS, A. TAMLYN1; RAEDEKE, THOMAS D.1

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: December 2006 - Volume 38 - Issue 12 - pp 2086-2094
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000235359.16685.a3
BASIC SCIENCES: Epidemiology

Purpose: This study evaluated the effects of a classroom-based physical activity program on children's in-school physical activity levels and on-task behavior during academic instruction.

Methods: Physical activity of 243 students was assessed during school hours. Intervention-group students (N = 135) received a classroom-based program (i.e., Energizers). The control group (N = 108) did not receive Energizers. On-task behavior during academic instruction time was observed for 62 third-grade (N = 37) and fourth-grade students (N = 25) before and after Energizers activities. An independent groups t-test compared in-school physical activity levels between intervention and control classes. A multiple-baseline across-classrooms design was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the Energizers on on-task behavior. Additionally, a two-way (time [pre- vs postobservation] × period [baseline vs intervention]) repeated-measures analysis of variance compared on-task behavior between observation periods. Magnitudes of mean differences were evaluated with Cohen's delta (ES).

Results: Students in the intervention group took significantly (P < 0.05) more in-school steps (5587 ± 1633) than control-group students (4805 ± 1543), and the size of this difference was moderate (ES = 0.49). The intervention was effective in improving on-task behavior; after the Energizers were systematically implemented, on-task behavior systematically improved. The improvement in on-task behavior of 8% between the pre-Energizers and post-Energizers observations was statistically significant (P < 0.017), and the difference was moderate (ES = 0.60). Likewise, the least on-task students improved on-task behavior by 20% after Energizers activities. This improvement was statistically significant (P < 0.001) and meaningful (ES = 2.20).

Conclusion: A classroom-based physical activity program was effective for increasing daily in-school physical activity and improving on-task behavior during academic instruction.

1Activity Promotion Laboratory, Department of Exercise and Sport Science, and 2Department of Psychology, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC

Address for correspondence: Matthew T. Mahar, Ed.D., Department of Exercise and Sport Science, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858; E-mail: maharm@ecu.edu.

Submitted for publication March 2006.

Accepted for publication June 2006.

©2006The American College of Sports Medicine