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Prev Med. 2001 Nov;33(5):402-8.

Active school playgrounds-myth or reality? Results of the "move it groove it" project.

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  • 1Health Promotion Unit, Lismore, New South Wales, Australia.



School playgrounds during break times provide potential opportunities for children to be active during the school day. However, there is limited research on how active children really are during these breaks.


The CAST (Children's Activity Scanning Tool) instrument was developed, validated, and used to assess the percentages of children engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and vigorous physical activity (VPA-a subset of MVPA) in 18 primary schools (children ages 5-12) in rural Australia. Related environmental factors were also measured.


For a school of median size (200 students), 51.4% of boys and 41.6% of girls were engaged in MVPA while 14.7% of boys and 9.4% of girls were engaged in VPA. Levels of engagement in MVPA and VPA were significantly higher during lunch periods than during recess. MVPA and VPA engagement in smaller schools was significantly higher than in larger schools.


With growing concern about children's physical activity (PA), school playgrounds offer an opportunity to increase children's MVPA engagement especially among girls. Consideration may be given to the lengthening of recess periods in order to increase PA levels. More research is needed to investigate factors affecting PA levels in larger schools.

Copyright 2001 American Health Foundation and Academic Press.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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