Seasonal changes in physical activity during school recess and lunchtime among Australian children
This study examined how children’s physical activity levels during recess and lunchtime and the contribution of recess and lunchtime to daily physical activity differed across seasons. Three hundred and twenty-six children aged 8–11 years from Australia participated. Physical activity was measured every 15-seconds using hip-mounted ActiGraph accelerometers for 7 consecutive days during the winter (n = 246), spring (n = 211), summer (n = 161) and autumn terms (n = 139). Data were collected 2012–2013. Time spent in light- (LPA) moderate- (MPA), vigorous- (VPA), and moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) during recess and lunchtime were calculated. Longitudinal data were analysed using multilevel analyses and adjusted for potential confounders. The results showed that compared to winter, children engaged in significantly less MVPA and VPA in spring and summer during lunchtime (p < 0.05). No significant changes were observed during recess. The contribution of lunchtime to VPA and MVPA significantly decreased in spring and summer compared to winter (p < 0.05). Children’s lunchtime physical activity levels decreased between winter and spring and summer, with greater declines observed in VPA. Strategies to increase physical activity levels in every season are needed during lunchtime, with a greater emphasis on warmer months.
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