Activity in the Classroom: Interventions to Increase Activity and Help Fight Childhood Obesity

As schools focus on academics, less time is devoted to physical activity. Students “lack daily, quality physical activity”, and this decline in physical exercise is contributing to the prevalence of childhood obesity. In this research we investigate how using a video-based exercise program in the classroom specifically designed to incorporate exercise with math skill practice can increase the activity level of children without sacrificing academic performance. Teachers from 36 Kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms participated in a 12- week pilot test using an academic exergaming program (ActiveEDU) including both an intervention group and a control group who did not use the software during the test period. Teachers in both the intervention and control groups participated in surveys to assess children’s activity levels and classroom behavior over the test period. Further, math pre- and post-tests were administered in both intervention and control classrooms with scores aggregated at the classroom level. We find that the total number of active minutes reported by classrooms during the pilot-test increased more than 100 minutes a week including 20 minutes within the classroom environment on average. Importantly, spending more activity time did not significantly impact academic scores on math skills positively or negatively. This research demonstrates that education-focused activity interventions can increase the activity level of children without having a negative impact on their overall academic performance.


Melissa G Bublitz* and Jordan Rhodes

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