Physical activity of children attending afterschool programs: Research- and practice-based implications

Michael W. Beets, Jennifer Huberty, Aaron Beighle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Background: Afterschool programs (3pm6pm; ASPs) are positioned to play a vital role in the improvement of children's daily physical activity. Recent guidelines specify that children should accumulate 4600 steps per day while attending an ASP. The extent to which ASPs currently meet this goal and how many steps per day children naturally accumulate within the ASP setting is unknown. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to describe the pedometer-determined physical activity of a large sample of children attending a diverse range of ASPs and evaluate the extent to which ASPs are meeting current physical activity guidelines. Methods: Children (N=934, 51% girls, average 8.2 years; range 414 years) enrolled across 25 ASPs wore Walk4Life MVPa pedometers (number of steps accumulated, time spent active [hours:minutes:seconds]) up to 4 days. Data were collected in fall/spring 20102011 and analyzed in summer 2011. Results: On average, children attended ASPs for 125 minutes per day, accumulated 2944 steps per day, and spent approximately 26.6 minutes per day in physical activity. Only 16.5% of the 1819 daily observations met the 4600 steps per day guideline. No differences in steps per day, minutes per day in physical activity, or demographics were observed among children measured a single day versus 2, 3, or 4 days. Based on current practice, children would need to spend approximately 3.4 hours per day at an ASP to reach 4600 steps per day. Conclusions: Activity levels in ASPs are well below recommendations. Substantial effort is needed to identify strategies ASPs can employ to ensure children are sufficiently active.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-184
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Epidemiology


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