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J Sci Med Sport. 2006 May;9(1-2):91-7. Epub 2006 Mar 31.

Pedometer steps in primary school-aged children: a comparison of school-based and out-of-school activity.

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  • 1Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of Technology, Private Bag 92006, Auckland 1020, New Zealand.


While studies of the physical activity habits of New Zealand children have been carried out, the findings have been restricted by the use of proxy and self-report measures and limited to total overall daily activity. Objective measurement of children's in-school and out-of school physical activity using pedometry is likely to provide more accurate data on habitual daily activity. To date, no such data are available for New Zealand children. In the present study, children from school years 1-6 (girls, n=46; boys, n=45) at a New Zealand primary school wore a Yamax Digiwalker SW-200 pedometer to record school-based and out-of-school steps over a 3-day period. Mean daily steps for the overall sample were 14 333 (S.D.=4110). Boys (X=15 606; S.D.=4601) were significantly more active than girls (X=13 031; S.D.=3079) (p=.00). Mean steps were also significantly higher in older age groups for both boys (p=.03) and in particular, girls (p=.00). Of note, for the overall sample, steps taken out of school made up 52.4% of total daily steps. Girls (53.6%) and boys (51.3%) took a similar proportion of their overall daily steps outside of the school environment. While a significant difference was found between the most and least active tertiles in steps taken during both during school hours (p=.00) and outside of school hours (p=.00), the most active third of the sample completed significantly more of their daily steps outside of school (55.1%) than did their least active (46.7%) counterparts (p=.00). These results suggest that physical activity outside of the school environment is a key contributor to a child's overall level of physical activity, reinforcing the need for interventions targeting the family and community as well as the school environment.

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