The Challenge: Physical activity can help children and teens maintain a healthy weight, but national studies show low levels of physical activity among children and teens. School-aged children spend more than half of their waking hours at school, making schools a prime location to increase physical activity among children.
Make an impact: Creating activity breaks at school, such as moving and stepping for up to 20 minutes at a time in the classroom during the school day, is a relatively new and innovative method for increasing physical activity among children. Several activity break programs already are available for teachers to use with children at different ages, and many of them have been evaluated.
What the findings are about: This brief summarizes the research on how programs that provide classroom physical activity breaks impact physical activity, on-task behavior, health, and related factors in children. This brief focuses on activity breaks conducted in the classroom, and does not cover physical education, recess, or physical activity breaks outside of schools.
Key Findings and Recommendations:
Providing short physical activity breaks during the school day increases physical activity, can help improve on-task behavior, and improves some measures of health in students.
Providing short physical activity breaks during the school day may compete with other school priorities and be perceived negatively by teachers.
Whitt-Glover, M., Porter, A., & Yancey, T. Do Short Physical Activity Breaks in Classrooms Work? A Research Brief. Princeton, NJ: Active Living Research, a National Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; February 2013. Available from: www.activelivingresearch.org.