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Recess Physical Activity Packs in Elementary Schools: A Qualitative Investigation

Steven Elliott, Sue Combs, Robert Boyce


To supplement the present weekly allotment of 30 minutes of physical education, a school district in southeastern North Carolina identified recess time as part of the state mandated (HSP-S-000) 150 minutes of physical activity (PA) per week and have purchased fitness equipment (recess packs) for the children to use. Twelve participants were selected from four elementary schools that had recently received the recess packs equipment and training. The participants were; (a) four principals, (b) four teachers, and (c) four students. They were selected by a purposeful sampling technique.

Qualitative data analysis procedures were used to explore participants’ views on how the recess packs had impacted PA levels during recess. Several themes emerged during the interviews including: (a) gender differences in the types of activities performed during recess before and after the introduction of the recess packs, (b) how the type and the developmentally appropriateness of activities had been affected by the recess packs, (c) how the recess packs initiative had changed the teacher’s role during recess, (d) the importance of addressing nutritional concerns in addition to encouraging more physical activity during recess, and (e) the training that principals and teachers had received.

Overall, the study demonstrates the PA benefits in providing equipment during school recess periods. Also, it stresses the importance of training principals and teachers to effectively plan and deliver developmentally appropriate activities resulting in more intense bouts of PA.

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