An Investigation into Physical Activity Levels in Primary School Playgrounds

Claire Mills*, Rachel Burnett

An Investigation into Physical Activity Levels in Primary School Playgrounds.

Schools have been encouraged by current and recent governments to promote PA with many documents and initiatives supporting it as a means to combating health problems. However,
due to the irregularity and need to teach curricular content, PE alone cannot offer adequate activity to achieve daily PA guidelines and promote mental and physical health benefits. School resources and curriculum demands limit the time available for PE. Hence children are less likely to engage in PA and in some instances recent reports have indicated a decline in the time assigned to PE and break time by as much as fifty minutes per week. Research conducted by Dobbins et al9 and Pate et al10 suggested that school-based interventions could successfully contribute to children’s daily PA and raise academic attainment.
In the United Kingdom break time is compulsory and can equate for up to a quarter of the school day. Playtime may prove to be the greatest chance children have to be active, as playtime exceeds that in structured PE lessons.15 Yet research shows that several children only use half of their school break time being active.9 Other than the health benefits and contribution to PA levels, playtime allows children to socialize and have a break from the classroom. Playtime supports constructive learning behaviours, problem solving and learning enthusiasm.

The current research study aimed to explore children’s PA levels during school lunchtimes through a mixed methods approach combining observations and focus groups. Using an adapted version of McKenzie’s30 SOPLAY provided a systematic way to observe and analyze PA levels of a large number of participants across the 3 tarmac areas.

Sport Exerc Med Open J. 2017; 3(2): 30-39. doi: 10.17140/SEMOJ-3-145