Promotion of school recess physical activity among elementary school children: A literature review

Mai Sato*, Kaori Ishii, Ai Shibata, Koichiro Oka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Engaging in physical activity was proved to have positive effects on physical and mental health in children. Built environment is an important correlate of physical activity participation. School recess provides a daily opportunity for children to be active during school day. Therefore, the purpose of the present article was to review literatures regarding 1) physical activity during school recess, 2) the relationship between recess physical activity and school physical environment, 3) intervention for physical activity promotion during recess by changing school physical environment, and to explore trends of current researches and assignments of future research. A review was conducted and included studies published to May 31, 2011. Twenty-two studies were selected in 1) and showed boys often engaged in more physical activity than girls, but the results on differences in physical activity between ages were inconsistent. Six studies were selected in 2) and indicated recess physical activity was associated with playground environments such as equipments, marking, and surface situate. School environment intervention was observed to be a potential method for promoting physical activity in children by 8 studies in 3). Playground environment with marking, additional play equipments, and designated activity zones increased physical activity during recess. Most researches regarding recess physical activity was conducted in U.S., Australia, and Western countries, and confirmed the effectiveness of recess to promote physical activity. However, few studies on this topic were conducted in Japan. Further researches are needed to draw a conclusion about the possibility of recess to promote physical activity among Japanese children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-167
Number of pages11
Journaljapanese journal of physical fitness and sports medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Apr


  • Children
  • Environment
  • Exercise
  • Health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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