South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation

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Physical activity during recess in elementary school: Gender differences and influence of weight status

Pedro A. Latorre-Roman, Melchor Martinez-Redondo, Jesús Salas-Sanchez, Felipe Garcia-Pinillos, Inmaculada Perez-Jimenez


The aim of this study was to determine the levels of physical activity during unstructured recess in the elementary school considering gender and weight status. There were 66 elementary school participants from southern Spain. Anthropometric parameters, such as body mass, body height and body mass index and physical activity were recorded. Overweight children and those with obesity showed lower levels of vigorous and very vigorous activity, a lower number of steps, and lower total physical activity compared to normal weight children. Girls showed lower energy expenditure, number of steps, very vigorous activity, total physical activity and greater sedentary time than boys. Pearson correlation analysis shows a significant correlation between body mass index and number of steps (r=-0.251, p=0.042). In the interaction between gender and weight status, the children who were overweight or obese exhibited high energy expenditure (p=0.002), fewer number of steps (p=0.024), high active energy expenditure (p=0.017), and low very vigorous activity (p=0.003). The physical activity levels in recess are regulated by gender and weight status. Boys were more active than girls during recess regardless of their weight status. Regardless of gender, the normal weight group was more active than overweight+obesity group during recess.

Keywords: Playground; Children; Overweight; Obesity; Physical exercise. 

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