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Is physical education an effective way to increase physical activity in children with lower cardiorespiratory fitness?
- Published on Jul 27, 2016
Several findings revealed the importance of accruing moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) to improve health. Physical education (PE) may play an important role on promoting children’s MVPA. However, it remains unknown whether PE might be effective when increasing physical activity (PA) levels in children with lower cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF). Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess children’s PA during PE and during days with and without PE with a special focus on CRF status. One hundred and fifty Spanish children and adolescents from 3rd to 12th grade were recruited. PA levels were assessed with GT3X accelerometers. Peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak) was estimated using a portable breath by breath Metamax 3B. Participants were classified as healthy aerobic fitness (HAF) and unhealthy aerobic fitness (UHAF) according to standardized cut-off point criteria. During PE, students with HAF accrued more MVPA than those with UHAF (8.7 vs 5.7 min/session; P ≤ 0.001). MVPA was higher on PE days than days without for both UHAF (50.0 vs 42.7 min/day; P ≤ 0.05) and HAF students (56.9 vs 49.4 min/day; P ≤ 0.05). Although less active during PE, students with lower CRF accumulated more MVPA and total PA on PE days than days without PE. An increase in PE days might be a smart policy to raise the recommended PA levels, regardless of CRF status.