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Impact of Three Years of Classroom Physical Activity Bouts on Time-on-Task Behavior


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: November 2017 - Volume 49 - Issue 11 - p 2343–2350
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001346
Applied Sciences

Participation in classroom physical activity (PA) may improve time-on-task (TOT); however, the influence of sustained moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) on TOT is unknown.

Purpose To explore the influence of classroom PA delivered with academic lessons on TOT, determine if the relationship between classroom PA and TOT differs by age, sex, race/ethnicity, weight or baseline fitness, and identify the influence of MVPA on TOT when controlling for demographic variables.

Methods Teachers in intervention schools were asked to deliver two 10-min PA lessons per day, 5 d·wk−1. PA was observed in both intervention and control schools to determine the amount and intensity of PA. Time-on-task was observed before and immediately after PA. Anthropometrics and fitness were assessed at baseline and end of the school year for 3 yr. Multilevel modeling was used to estimate overall group difference, change over the study, and group difference in change while accounting for covariates.

Results Students who participated in PA lessons engaged in significantly more MVPA than those in the control schools in all 3 yr (all P < 0.001). There was a significant linear increase in the percent of TOT before PA lessons for both control and intervention groups over the 3-yr period (P < 0.001), with no group difference. The intervention group spent significantly more TOT (P = 0.01) after PA than the control group. The percent of time spent in MVPA was significantly associated with the percent of TOT (P < 0.01).

Conclusions Results indicate that children who received PA lessons participated in significantly more MVPA than those who did not and that PA was significantly associated with more TOT. These findings provide support for classroom PA as a means of increasing TOT in elementary age children.

Supplemental digital content is available in the text.

1Cardiovascular Research Institute, Division of Internal Medicine, The University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS; 2Department of Educational Psychology and Leadership, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX; and 3Department of Psychology, Department of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA

Address for correspondence: Joseph E. Donnelly, Ed.D., F.A.C.S.M., Cardiovascular Research Institute, Division of Internal Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center, 3901 Rainbow Blvd, Mail Stop 1007, ATTN: Energy Balance Lab, Kansas City, KS 66160; E-mail:

Submitted for publication March 2017.

Accepted for publication June 2017.

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© 2017 American College of Sports Medicine