TitleAn observational study of recess quality and physical activity in urban primary schools.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsMassey, WV, Stellino, MB, Geldhof, GJ
JournalBMC Public Health
Date Published05/2020

BACKGROUND: To date, there is scant literature that examines the recess context concurrent with, but separate from, levels of physical activity. The primary purpose of the current study was to examine how recess quality impacted physical activity levels, and how this was moderated by gender. A secondary purpose was to examine if differences in children's engagement in activities occurred between recess sessions scored as low- or high- quality.

METHODS: This was an observational study of children at 13 urban elementary schools in the U.S. Across the 13 schools, data were collected at 55 recess sessions, with 3419 child-level observations (n = 1696 boys; n = 1723 girls). Physical activity data were collected using Fitbit accelerometers, recess quality data were collected using the Great Recess Framework - Observational Tool (GRF-OT), recess engagement data were collected using the Observation of Playground Play (OPP), and basic psychological need satisfaction (BPNS) data were collected using a modified version of the BPNS for recess physical activity survey. Primary analyses were conducted using Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) with children nested within recess sessions.

RESULTS: Gender moderated the relationship between adult engagement and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) (b = .012; 95% CI .001, .024), student behavior and MVPA (b = -.014; 95% CI -.021, -.007), and student behaviors and light physical activity (b = .009, 95% CI .003, .015). Both boys and girls engaged in more play during recess sessions scored as high quality on the GRF-OT. Children reported higher levels of basic psychological need satisfaction at recesses sessions scored as high quality on the GRF-OT.

CONCLUSIONS: Results of the current study showed that the quality of the recess environment, and the interactions of both adults and students in that environment, need to be taken into consideration in future school-based recess studies.

Alternate JournalBMC Public Health
PubMed ID32460860
PubMed Central IDPMC7251697
Grant ListNo Number / / Playworks Education Energized /