Evaluating the impact of school policies and facility conditions on elementary student physical activity Open Access

Hershey, Haley (Spring 2020)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/1n79h529w?locale=en


Adolescent physical activity (PA) has been associated with long-term physical and mental health benefits. While a multitude of health outcomes associated with PA have been studied, the role of school policies and facilities in providing PA opportunities is unclear. This study investigated how school policies and facilities affected total daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) for a cohort of 4,448 4th grade students enrolled in 39 schools within the Gwinnett County Public School (GCPS) district in Georgia, USA. School policies were assessed and scored using a modified version of the School Physical Activity Policy Assessment and facilities were assessed using a modified version of the School Observation: Environment Checklist. Student-level demographic information on gender, socioeconomic status, and race/ethnicity were collected from the GCPS district. Predictors of MVPA were modeled using multi-level linear models incorporating student-level demographic factors and school-level policy and facility predictors. Schools with at or above median physical education and recess scores were associated with 2.56 (standard error = 1.09) and 3.75 (standard error = 1.75) more minutes of total daily MVPA compared to schools with below median scores, respectively. At the student-level, females engaged in 4.39 (standard error = 0.37) fewer minutes of total daily MVPA than males. Attending schools with at or above median recess policy scores decreased disparities between white and black students, while attending schools with at or above median physical education policy scores was associated with fewer minutes of MVPA in female versus male students. This study demonstrates that school policies supporting a more PA conducive environment can lead to more total daily MVPA among adolescent students, but these effects are not manifested uniformly across students with different demographic backgrounds.

Table of Contents

Background 8

Methods 14

Results 20

Discussion 23

Future Directions 27

References 29

Table 1 33

Table 2 34

Table 3 35

Appendix 37

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