Physical Activity Laws Impact School Activity Opportunities

But, inverse association found between adequate physical exercise time and recess time

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Schools located in areas with laws encouraging 150 minutes/week of physical education (PE) are more likely to have the required exercise time, and schools in locales requiring daily recess are more likely to have a 20 minute daily recess, according to a study published online Dec. 5 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Sandy J. Slater, Ph.D., from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and colleagues investigated the impact of state- and school district-level policies on the prevalence of PE and recess in 47 states, 690 districts, and 1,761 schools. Surveys were conducted between February and June during the 2006-2007 through 2008-2009 school years. The impact of state- and school district-level PE and recess related-laws on 20 minutes of daily recess and 150 minutes/week of PE was evaluated.

The investigators found that schools located in states or school districts with a law or policy requiring 150 minutes/week of PE were significantly more likely to have 150 minutes/week of PE (odds ratios [OR], 2.8 and 2.4, respectively). The likelihood of a school having 20 minutes of recess daily was significantly higher in schools located in states with laws encouraging daily recess (OR, 1.8). No significant association was identified between district policies and school-level recess practices. An inverse association was found between adequate PE time and recess and vice versa, suggesting that schools are substituting one form of physical activity for another.

"By mandating PE or recess, policy makers can effectively increase school-based physical activity opportunities for youth," the authors write.

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