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      Ecological study of playground space and physical activity among primary school children


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          To examine the relationship between school playground size and total physical activity (PA), fitness and fundamental movement skills (FMS) of primary school students.


          Cross-sectional ecological analysis.


          43 primary schools in New South Wales, Australia.


          Data were from 5238 students, aged 5 to 12 years, participating in the Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey.

          Outcome measures

          Self (for age ≥11 years) and parent (for age <11 years) report of PA (meeting PA recommendations and number of days meeting recommendations), objectively measured FMS and cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness.


          Associations between playground space and measures of PA and fitness were mostly non-linear and moderated by loose equipment. Students in schools with no loose equipment showed a weak association between space and meeting PA recommendations (self-report). In schools with equipment, students’ predicted probability of meeting PA recommendations increased sharply between 15 m 2 and 25 m 2 per student from 0.04 (95% CI: 0.01 to 0.08) to 0.30 (95% CI: 0.14 to 0.46), but at 30 m 2 returned to levels comparable to students in schools with no equipment (0.18, 95% CI: 0.07 to 0.28). For cardiorespiratory fitness, in schools with no loose equipment, probabilities for being in the healthy cardiovascular fitness zone varied between 0.66 and 0.77, showing no consistent trend. Students in schools with loose equipment had a predicted probability of being in the healthy fitness zone of 0.56 (95% CI: 0.41 to 0.71) at 15 m 2 per student, which rose to 0.75 (95% CI: 0.63 to 0.86) at 20 m 2 per student. There was no relationship between space and FMS.


          School space guidelines need to incorporate sufficient playground space for students. Our study provides evidence supporting better PA outcomes with increasing space up to 25 m 2 per student, and access to loose equipment, however further research is required to determine precise thresholds for minimum space. Intersectoral planning and cooperation is required to meet the needs of growing school populations.

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          Most cited references27

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          A physical activity screening measure for use with adolescents in primary care.

          To develop a reliable and valid physical activity screening measure for use with adolescents in primary care settings. We conducted 2 studies to evaluate the test-retest reliability and concurrent validity of 6 single-item and 3 composite measures of physical activity. Modifications were based on the findings of the 2 studies, and a best measure was evaluated in study 3. Accelerometer data served as the criterion standard for tests of validity. In study 1 (N = 250; mean age, 15 years; 56% female; 36% white), reports on the composite measures were most reliable. In study 2 (N = 57; mean age, 14 years; 65% female; 37% white), 6 of the 9 screening measures correlated significantly with accelerometer data. Subjects, however, had great difficulty reporting bouts of activity and distinguishing between intensity levels. Instead, we developed a single measure assessing accumulation of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Evaluated in study 3 (N = 148; mean age, 12 years; 65% female; 27% white), the measure was reliable (intraclass correlation, 0.77) and correlated significantly (r = 0.40, P<.001) with accelerometer data. Correct classification (63%), sensitivity (71%), and false-positive rates (40%) were reasonable. The "moderate to vigorous physical activity" screening measure is recommended for clinical practice with adolescents.
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            A maximal multistage 20-m shuttle run test to predict VO2 max.

            In order to validate a maximal multistage 20-m shuttle run test for the prediction of VO2 max, 91 adults (32 females and 59 males, aged 27.3 +/- 9.2 and 24.8 +/- 5.5 year respectively and with mean VO2 max (+/- SD) of 39.3 +/- 8.3 and 51.6 +/- 7.8 ml . kg-1 . min-1 respectively) performed the test and had VO2 max estimated by the retroextrapolation method (extrapolation to time zero of recovery of the exponential least squares regression of the first four 20-s recovery VO2 values). Starting at 8 km . h-1 and increasing by 0.5 km . h-1 every 2 min, the 20-m shuttle run test enabled prediction of the VO2 max (y, ml . kg-1 . min-1) from the maximal speed (x, km . h-1) by means of the following regression equation: y = 5.857x - 19.458; r = 0.84 and SEE = 5.4. Later, the multistage protocol was slightly modified to its final version, in which the test started at stage 7 Met and continued with a 1 Met (3.5 ml O2 . kg-1 . min-1) increment every 2 min. Twenty-five of the 91 subjects performed the 20-m shuttle test twice, once on a hard, low-friction surface (vinyl-asbestos tiles) and another time on a rubber floor, as well as a walking maximal multistage test on an inclined treadmill. There was no difference between the means of these tests or between the slopes of the VO2max - maximal speed regressions for the two types of surfaces. The 20-m shuttle run test and another maximal multistage field test involving continuous track running gave comparable results (r = 0.92, SEE = 2.6 ml O2 . kg-1 . min-1, n = 70). Finally, test and retest of the 20-m shuttle run test also yielded comparable results (r = 0.975, SEE = 2.0 ml O2 . kg-1 . min-1, n = 50). It is concluded that the 20-m shuttle run test is valid and reliable test for the prediction of the VO2 max of male and female adults, individually or in groups, on most gymnasium surfaces.
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              Physical activity during school recess: a systematic review.

              Interest has increased in examining the physical activity levels of young people during school recess. Identifying correlates of their recess physical activity behaviors is timely, and would inform school-based physical activity programming and intervention development. The review examined the correlates of children's and adolescent's physical activity during school recess periods. A systematic search of six electronic databases, reference lists, and personal archives identified 53 studies (47 focused on children) published between January 1990 and April 2011 that met the inclusion criteria. Data were analyzed in 2011. Correlates were categorized using the social-ecological framework. Forty-four variables were identified across the four levels of the social-ecological framework, although few correlates were studied repeatedly at each level. Positive associations were found of overall facility provision, unfixed equipment, and perceived encouragement with recess physical activity. Results revealed that boys were more active than girls. Providing access to school facilities, providing unfixed equipment, and identifying ways to promote encouragement for physical activity have the potential to inform strategies to increase physical activity levels during recess periods. Copyright © 2012 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
                23 June 2020
                : 10
                : 6
                : e034586
                [1 ]departmentPrevention Research Collaboration, Sydney School of Public Health , University of Sydney , Camperdown, New South Wales, Australia
                [2 ]The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre , Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
                [3 ]departmentCentre for Research and Action in Public Health, Faculty of Health , University of Canberra , Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
                [4 ]Northern Sydney Local Health District Health Promotion , Brookvale, New South Wales, Australia
                Author notes
                [Correspondence to ] Dr Anne C Grunseit; anne.grunseit@ 123456sydney.edu.au
                Author information
                © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

                This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

                : 28 September 2019
                : 30 April 2020
                : 29 May 2020
                Funded by: Northern Sydney Local Health District;
                Public Health
                Original research
                Custom metadata

                physical activity,playground space,children,primary schools
                physical activity, playground space, children, primary schools


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