Term of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health in Community Health Behavior and Education (Dr.P.H.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health

Committee Chair

Moya Alfonso

Committee Member 1

Robert Vogel

Committee Member 2

Raymona Lawrence

Committee Member 3

Raymona Lawrence

Abstract

Problem Statement: Almost 90% of students do not meet the national recommendations for physical activity in school. The purpose of this study was to determine the need for school policy changes to incorporate classroom-based physical activity programs in an effort to increase school physical activity levels for children in grades pre-kindergarten through five by assessing the levels of and the barriers/facilitators to physical activity engagement.

Methods: This was a sequential explanatory mixed methods study utilizing school board members, principals, and teachers in the Upson County School System as participants. The online survey was adapted from the School Health Policies and Practices Study Physical Education School and Classroom questionnaires (National Center for Chronic Disease and Health Promotion). Interview questions were developed based upon survey results. The study sought to answer the following questions: 1. Do the current physical activity opportunities provide 60 minutes of physical activity daily? 2. What are the barriers/facilitators associated with increasing physical activity in school? 3. What is the most effective method to increase physical activity for the public school system?

Results: The findings showed that at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day are neither required by the school system nor achieved by children in grades pre-kindergarten through fifth grade in Upson County. These students have physical education class twice weekly for approximately 45 minutes each day. Barriers to providing the recommended levels included lack of resources such as administrative support and assistance in developing lesson plans that incorporate physical activity. According to participants, the most effective method to increase physical activity for the school system is a classroombased physical activity curriculum.

Conclusion: Policy change to incorporate physical activity into the core subjects that students engage in daily, such as math, and science, will increase the activity levels of the children and allow them to meet the recommendations of 60 minutes of physical activity per day as described by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Integration also would help movement towards the Healthy People 2020 goals and objectives related to school policies requiring daily physical education for all students

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