Do kids move it, move it? Exploring grade and sex influences on movement behaviour during balanced school day nutrition breaks


The purpose of this study was to examine primary (grades 1-3) and junior (grades 4-6) students' physical activity (PA) in the context of the Canadian 24-hour movement guidelines (2016); specifically, their time spent in moderate-to-vigorous intensity PA (MVPA; 'sweat'), light intensity PA (LPA; 'step'), and sedentary behaviour (SB; 'sit') during school day nutrition breaks. Children (n = 159; 52% girls) from two Northern Ontario elementary schools following the balanced school day schedule wore an omni-directional accelerometer (Philips Respironics ActiCal; sampling rate 2 sec) for 5 consecutive school days between March and June. Pre-determined cut-points (Colley et al., 2011) were used to calculate the amount of time spent in MVPA, LPA, and SB during the 40-minute nutrition/physical activity breaks. A 2 (Division) x 2 (Sex) MANOVA showed that students in the primary grades spent significantly more time in LPA than those in junior grades (F(1, 155) = 7.14, p < .05, n2 = .04), and junior grade students spent significantly more time in MVPA than primary (F(1, 155) = 3.98, p < .05, n2 = 0.02). Regardless of grade, boys displayed significantly more LPA and MVPA and less SB than girls (ps < .05, n2 = .07-.14). During each nutrition break, children were engaged in some form of PA for approximately 13 minutes (SD = 2.95) and accumulated 8-11% towards recommended daily MVPA. Further exploration of variations in play activities and patterns within school contexts may help to identify opportunities to tailor PA interventions to girls and younger children.

Acknowledgments: This study was funded by a Nipissing University Internal Research Grant