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Outdoor Recess Ups Quantity, Intensity of Physical Activity
Findings based on measurements in urban public school students during recess outdoors, indoors

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 11, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Outdoor recess is associated with increased quantity and intensity of physical activity compared with indoor recess settings, according to a study published Nov. 21 in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Preventing Chronic Disease.

Irene Tran, D.P.T., from Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues measured the quantity and intensity of physical activity in 106 urban public school students during recess outdoors, indoors in the gym, and indoors in the classroom. For an average of 6.2 recess periods over eight weeks, students in grades two through five wore accelerometer pedometers; 26 students also wore heart rate monitors.

Based on 655 recess observations, the researchers found that, compared with recess in the gym or classroom, outdoor recess enabled more total steps per recess period (P < 0.0001) and more steps in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (P < 0.0001). In addition, outdoor recess yielded higher heart rates compared with the indoor settings.

"To maximize physical activity quantity and intensity, school policies should promote outdoor recess," the authors write.

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