PURPOSE: The afterschool time has been identified as an important opportunity for achieving moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) for children. For children’s health, afterschool physical activity programs should be structured to yield maximal MVPA minutes. The purpose of this study was to examine the differences in the average MVPA during 30-minute period using a structured program design among children who participated at four different geographic locations.
METHODS: Data was collected from a total of 2963 children who participated in a 30-minute after-school physical activity program (i.e., Active Science) in multiple YMCAs in the following regions: New England (n=688, male n=285, age M= 9.73 ± 0.63), Mid-Atlantic (n=758, male n=432, age M= 9.04 ± 0.98), Midwest (n=711, male n=339, age M=8.18 ± 0.51) and Southeast (n=806, male n=396, age M= 8.83 ± 1.59). Children wore accelerometers to track their MVPA during the program time.
RESULT: The average time and standard deviation of MVPA for New England, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and Southeast were M=12.97± .39, M=10.605 ± .58 M=13.585 ± .72, M=8.355 ± .60 respectively. ANOVA showed that there were significant differences between the regions, F(3,2959)=115.68, p ≤ .001. Post Hoc Test showed that New England and Midwest were significantly higher in MVPA than the Southeast p ≤ .001 and Mid Atlantic p < .01. There was no significant difference between New England and the Midwest.
CONCLUSION: Children participating in a standardized afterschool program at different geographic locations can obtain significantly different MVPA. While further research is needed to determine the causation of these geographical differences, the findings emphasize that the quality of program implementation (e.g., program strategies) should be considered in addition to the quantity of the program (e.g., program time). Regardless, afterschool physical activity programs should continue to focus on improving MVPA.