Regular physical activity (PA) has multiple benefits to health; however, the majority of schoolchildren do not reach PA guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) daily. During the school day, break times are often the only opportunity for children to be physically active. This study investigated PA levels during school breaks in German primary school children.
PA of 294 children (7.1 ± 0.7 years; 48% boys) was assessed. On the basis of timetables, individual activity times and intensities for daily breaks were determined. Children’s weight status was determined on site.
Breaks lasted 30.7 (± 13.8) minutes; length varied significantly between 1 and 2 breaks (21.7 ± 4.1 versus 36.2 ± 14.8 minutes; p ≤ .01). Children spent 25.3% of their breaks in MVPA, boys being significantly more active (30.8% versus 20.4%; p ≤ .01). Time spent in MVPA differed significantly between normal weight and overweight/obese children (26.1% versus 18.4%; p ≤ .05). Children having 2 breaks engaged in significantly more MVPA than those with only 1 (7.4 ± 6.1 versus 5.6 ± 4.7 minutes; p ≤ .02).
Children spent 25% of their break in MVPA; having 2 breaks increased time in MVPA significantly, although this is also influenced by weight status. Consequently, more activity breaks should be scheduled during school hours.