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Children's Pedometer-Determined Physical Activity during the Segmented School Day


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: October 2006 - Volume 38 - Issue 10 - p 1732-1738
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000230212.55119.98

Purpose: To describe the sex-specific patterns of school children's daily pedometer-determined physical (PA) during physical education (PE), recess and lunchtime, and before and after school.

Methods: Eighty-one sixth-grade students (28 boys, age = 11.9 ± 0.4 yr, BMI = 18.8 ± 4.1 kg·m−2; 53 girls, 11.8 ± 0.5 yr, BMI = 20.2 ± 4.6 kg·m−2) wore pedometers for four school days and were prompted to record steps accumulated at arrival and departure from school and during pre- and postrecess, lunchtime, and PE class.

Results: Boys took significantly (P < 0.001) more steps per day than girls: 16,421 ± 5,444 vs 12,332 ± 3,056 steps per day, and more steps during release time (e.g., before-school Δ = 1289 steps, recess Δ = 479 steps, lunchtime Δ = 608 steps, and after-school Δ = 1872 steps) but the same number of steps during structured PE classes (1429 ± 567 vs 1410 ± 445 steps; P = 0.87). Lunchtime PA represented the most important source of daily PA (15-16%) obtained during school hours for both boys and girls, whereas recess accounted for 8-9% and PE class accounted for 8-11% of total steps per day. Regardless, almost half of daily steps taken are attributable to after-school activities.

Conclusion: These data provide greater understanding of sex-specific PA patterns and the relative contribution of distinct segments of the school day to school children's total PA.

1Walking Research Laboratory, Department of Exercise and Wellness, Arizona State University, Mesa, AZ; 2Department of Kinesiology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu HI; 3Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, University of Kentucky Lexington, KY; and 4Department of Physical Education, Arizona State University, Mesa, AZ

Address for correspondence: Catrine Tudor-Locke, Ph.D., FACSM, Walking Research Laboratory, Dept. of Exercise and Wellness, Arizona State University, 7350 East Unity Ave., Mesa, AZ 85212-0180; E-mail:

Submitted for publication September 2005.

Accepted for publication May 2006.

©2006The American College of Sports Medicine