Preprint / Version 1

Association of Recess Provision with Elementary School-Aged Children’s Physical Activity, Adiposity, and Cardiorespiratory and Muscular Fitness


  • Kimberly Clevenger National Cancer Institute
  • Melitta McNarry Swansea University
  • Kelly Mackintosh Swansea University
  • David Berrigan National Cancer Institute



health, body composition, epidemiology, physical fitness


Purpose: To identify associations between amount of school recess provision and children’s physical activity (PA), weight status, adiposity, cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength, and muscular endurance.

Method: Data from 6–11-year-old participants (n=499) in the 2012 National Youth Fitness Survey were analyzed. Parents/guardians reported children’s PA levels and recess provision, categorized as no/minimal (9.0%), low (26.1%), medium (46.0%), or high (18.9%). Children wore a wrist-worn accelerometer for seven days and completed anthropometric measurements. Fitness was assessed using grip strength, and treadmill, pull-up, and plank tests. Cross-sectional linear and logistic regression compared outcomes across levels of recess provision adjusting for the survey’s complex sampling design.

Results: Children with high provision of recess were 2.31 times more likely to meet PA guidelines than those with no/minimal recess. Accelerometer-measured PA (overall, weekdays, and weekends) was higher in children with high compared to low recess provision. There were no associations with weight status, adiposity, or fitness.

Conclusion: Provision of 30 mins of recess, 4-5 days•week-1 was associated with a two-fold-greater likelihood of achieving the PA levels recommended for health and wellbeing in youth. Recess provision should be protected within the school day due to its important role in the PA levels of youth.


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