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Can J Public Health. 2012 May-Jun;103(3):170-4.

The Daily Physical Activity (DPA) policy in Ontario: is it working? an examination using accelerometry-measured physical activity data.

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  • 1Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.



In 2005, the Ontario Ministry of Education announced a policy requiring that all elementary students be provided with opportunities to participate in a minimum of 20 minutes of sustained moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) each school day during instructional time. To the authors' knowledge, this policy has never been formally evaluated. In a form of natural experiment with Project BEAT, we explored within 16 Toronto District School Board schools the proportion of children who participate in DPA, and the proportion who achieve sustained MVPA within these sessions; these are the objectives of this article.


Consent was given by 1027 parents/guardians for their children to participate (boys, n=478; girls, n=549). Physical activity (PA) was measured using accelerometry and classroom schedules collected to identify sessions of DPA. The frequency of DPA and number and duration of sustained bouts of MVPA (> or =5 min) were computed and explored relative to PA levels and health outcomes.


Fewer than half of the participating children were provided with DPA every day and not a single child engaged in sustained MVPA for > or =20 minutes. On the more positive side, children who engaged in DPA every day were significantly more active than their peers. Those accumulating at least 1 bout of MVPA were more active and likely to meet PA guidelines, and fewer of these children were overweight.


The majority of schools are not meeting the DPA policy. However, as the frequency and intensity of DPA increases, so do positive health outcomes. This paper provides supporting evidence that when this policy is implemented, the intended health benefits are achievable.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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