It has become evident over the past decade that the lack of PA (physical activity) is a major concern for the population at large CDC (Center for Disease Control). This lack is a major reason for the increase in overweight and obese children (USDHHS, 2014). The CDC and the American Heart Association recommend children need at least 60 minutes of play time that is not scheduled PA. The purpose of this research was to examine whether children’s PA will increase if teacher activity increases during unstructured free play time. Students’ PA was determined by using the SOPLAY (system for observing play and leisure activity in youth-children). SOPLAY is a validated tool for directly observing PA and associated environmental characteristics in free play settings (e.g., recess and lunch at school). SOPLAY provides objective data on the number of participants and their PA levels during play and leisure opportunities in targeted areas. Children and teachers in a West Texas Lab School (mean age = 4.3 years) on a university campus were studied. Control group data (males = 13, female = 15) were analyzed and MVPA (moderate to vigorous physical activity) was calculated. Data showed that children spent only 30% of their free-time in the recommended intensity levels. Teachers’ (n = 5) overall metabolic equivalents (METs) were recorded at 1.13. The experimental group (males = 11, female = 13) recorded teachers’ (n = 6) METs at 2.47 and children MVPA at 44%. Both the MVPA and METs were significantly different (p < 0.001). The value and importance of unstructured play time are important for children as well as the teachers. Children need time to be creative and explore during play and teachers use this free time for various activities including cognitive breaks or administrative work. A stronger push to get teachers moving should be made as this slight increase in METs produces a significant increase in children’s PA

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Journal: Journal of Sports Science. 2018;6:144-8

Keywords: children, free play, MVPA, obesity, Physical Activity, school, teacher,

Applications: Physical Activity,

CamNtech Reference: AH18045

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