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Effects of a Before School Physical Activity Program on Physical Activity and On-Task Behavior in Elementary School-Aged Children

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Michelle Vuchenich (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
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Abstract: The prevalence of obesity in children has dramatically increased over the last few decades and physical inactivity has been identified as a main contributor. Schools are an ideal setting for children to engage in physical activity. Unfortunately, opportunities for children to participate in physical activity during the school day have decreased as more emphasis has been placed on academic work. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of a before school physical activity program on elementary school-aged children's physical activity levels and on-task behavior. The First-Class Activity Program (First-Class) was implemented utilizing the HOPSports Training System. HOPSports is an interactive multi-media system that utilizes DVR technology to engage large numbers of students in physical activity. Physical activity levels were measured with accelerometers and on-task behavior was observed at three different time periods (i.e., baseline, intervention, post-intervention). Twenty-seven students attended the program during the intervention data collection period. During First-Class, children spent an average of 46.4% of time in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Repeated measures analyses of variance were conducted to examine differences in physical activity and on-task behavior between baseline, intervention, and post-intervention for varying intensity levels (i.e., sedentary behavior, and light, moderate, vigorous, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity). Effect sizes (ES) were calculated using Cohen's delta to estimate the size of the mean differences. As hypothesized, no significant differences (p > .05) in school day physical activity [not including activity during First-Class] were found between the three time periods. For on-task behavior, significant differences (p < .01) were found among baseline, intervention, and post-intervention measures. Fisher's LSD post hoc tests indicated that on-task behavior increased from baseline to intervention (p < .01; ES = 1.17) and decreased from intervention to post-intervention (p < .01; ES = 0.95). Overall, there was an 18% increase in on-task behavior from the baseline to the intervention data collection period. In conclusion, a before school activity program can have positive effects on physical activity and classroom behavior in elementary school-aged children. Children did not compensate by decreasing physical activity levels during the school day on days they attended First-Class. Additionally, children had higher percentages of on-task behavior on days they attended First-Class compared to days they did not attend First-Class. This is the first study to demonstrate the effects of a before school program on physical activity and on-task behavior. A before school activity program does not interfere with academic time and may help students meet physical activity recommendations, while preparing them to learn.  

Additional Information

Date: 1905

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