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Changing the School Environment to Increase Physical Activity in Children: 641May 28 4:45 PM - 5:00 PM

Lanningham-Foster, Lorraine1; McCrady, Shelly K.1; Foster, Randal C.1; Manohar, Chinmay1; Hill, James O.2; James, Levine1

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2008 - Volume 40 - Issue 5 - p S30
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000321575.51705.35
B-47 Free Communication/Slide - Environment and Physical Activity Promotion: MAY 28, 2008 3:15 PM - 5:15 PM ROOM: 104

1Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. 2Univesity of Colorado, Denver, CO.


(No relationships reported)

PURPOSE: We examined the hypothesis that elementary school-age children will be more physically active while attending school in a novel, activity-permissive school environment compared to their traditional school environment. Research Methods and Procedures: Twenty-four children were monitored with a single triaxial accelerometer worn on the thigh. The students attended school in three different environments: traditional school with chairs and desks, an activity-permissive environment, and finally their traditional school with desks which encouraged standing. Data from the school children was compared with another group of age-matched children (n = 16) whose physical activity was monitored during summer vacation.

RESULTS: When children attended school in their traditional environment, they moved an average (mean ± standard deviation) 71± 0.4 m/s2. When the children attended school in the activity-permissive environment, they moved an average of 115 ± 3 m/s2. The children moved 71 ± 0.7 m/s2 while attending the traditional school with standing desks. Children moved significantly more while attending school in the activity-permissive environment compared to the amount that they moved in either of the traditional school environments (P<0.0001 for both). Comparing children's activity while they were on summer vacation (113 ± 8 m/s2) to school-bound children in their traditional environment showed significantly more activity for the children on summer vacation (P<0.0001). The school children in the activity-permissive environment were as active as children on summer vacation.

CONCLUSION: Children will move more in an activity-permissive environment. Strategies to increase the activity of school children may involve re-designing the school itself.

©2008The American College of Sports Medicine