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Open Access Study protocol

The effect of an unstructured, moderate to vigorous, before-school physical activity program in elementary school children on academics, behavior, and health

Connie L Tompkins1*, Jacob Hopkins2, Lauren Goddard3 and David W Brock1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Rehabilitation & Movement Science, University of Vermont, 106 Carrigan Drive, 310D Rowell, Burlington, VT, 05405-0068, USA

2 Department of Biological Sciences, 528 University of Vermont, 108 Morrill Hall, Burlington, VT, 05405-0068, USA

3 College of Education and Social Services, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, USA

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:300  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-300

Published: 26 April 2012

Abstract

Background

Physical inactivity has been deemed a significant, contributing factor to childhood overweight and obesity. In recent years, many school systems removed recess and/or physical education from their curriculum due to growing pressure to increase academic scores. With the vast majority of children’s time spent in school, alternative strategies to re-introduce physical activity back into schools are necessary. A creative yet underutilized solution to engage children in physical activity may be in before-school programs. The objective of the proposed study is to examine the effect of an unstructured, moderate to vigorous, before-school physical activity program on academic performance, classroom behavior, emotions, and other health related measures.

Methods/Design

Children in 3rd–5th grade will participate in a before-school (7:30–8:15 a.m.), physical activity program for 12 weeks, 3 days a week. Children will be able to choose their preferred activity and asked to sustain physical activity of moderate to vigorous intensity with individual heart rate monitored during each session.

Discussion

The proposed study explores an innovative method of engaging and increasing physical activity in children. The results of this study will provide evidence to support the feasibility of an unstructured, moderate to vigorous, before-school physical activity program in children and provide insight regarding the ideal physical activity intensity and duration necessary to achieve a positive increase in academic performance.

Trial registration

ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01505244

Keywords:
Before-school physical activity; Physical activity and academics; School health