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Effects of a 16-week Online Classroom Physical Activity Integration Course on Student-Level Outcomes 

Lauren E. von Klinggraeff, Katie L. Hodgin, Brian Dauenhauer, and Russell L. Carson

ajhe cover September October 2020

Physical activity (PA) in children promotes healthy growth and development including strengthening bones, building cardiorespiratory capacity, and reducing the risk of chronic disease. Psychological health can also benefit from PA, which has been linked with reduced depression and greater engagement and perseverance in children and adolescents. Furthermore, engaging in regular PA is associated with higher student academic achievement. Despite the multitude of known benefits, most children in the United States are not meeting the recommended 60 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA).5 With 95% of American children attending school for up to 13 years of their life, schools are optimally positioned to support efforts to increase childhood PA. The Institute of Medicine recommends schools in the United States (U.S.) provide 30 minutes of MVPA daily for elementary-level children and evidence has begun to highlight the need for more comprehensive interventions that target the reduction of sedentarism in school.

Based on a social ecological framework, Comprehensive School PA Programs (CSPAPs) advocate for providing students with several opportunities for PA throughout the school day to help them reach recommended levels, including before, during, and after school PA in addition to physical education. Given that legislative mandates for physical education vary widely and in some states, are entirely absent, incorporating PA opportunities in settings where students spend a lot of their school time is essential. Reducing sedentary time by providing PA opportunities during the school day can elicit several benefits for students. For instance, integrating PA into the classroom setting has been associated with more MVPA,greater on-task behavior, and improved academic performance. Common classroom PA integration techniques include teacher-directed transitions (e.g., between desks and a common area), PA breaks (e.g., active videos), and PA infused academic lessons (e.g., active science experiment).

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