Bocarro, J. N., Kanters, M. A., Edwards, M. B., Casper, J. M., & McKenzie, T. L. (2014). Prioritizing School Intramural and Interscholastic Programs Based on Observed Physical Activity. American Journal of Health Promotion, 28(sp3), S65-S71.
PURPOSE: To examine which school sports engage children in more physical activity. DESIGN: Observational, cross-sectional study examining differences between intramural (IM) and interscholastic (IS) sports. SETTING: Athletic facilities at two schools with IM sports and two schools with IS sports in Wake County, North Carolina. SUBJECTS: Middle-school children (N = 6735). MEASURES: Percentage of children observed in sedentary, moderate, and vigorous activity assessed by the System for Observation Play and Leisure Among Youth (SOPLAY). Energy expenditure and physical activity intensity were also estimated by using MET values. ANALYSIS: T-tests; generalized linear model using cumulative logit link function. RESULTS: IM sports had higher MET values than IS sports (t = −3.69, p < .001), and IM sports ranked in four of the top five sports in terms of average MET values. Regression models found a significant interaction between school sport delivery model and gender, with boys significantly less physically active in IS programs than boys in IM programs (B = −.447, p < .001) but more physically active (B = .359, p <.001) than girls in IM sports. CONCLUSION: Regardless of sport type, IM sports generated more physical activity than IS sports among boys but not girls. Soccer, basketball, and track, regardless of school delivery approach, provide the highest physical activity levels. Results suggest that school administrators consider reassessing their programs to more efficiently use diminishing resources to increase students' physical activity levels.