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Physical Activity: Classroom-based Physical Activity Break Interventions

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This is a brief summary of the CPSTF finding and systematic review evidence for Physical Activity: Classroom-based Physical Activity Break Interventions. Read a complete summary of the systematic review and CPSTF Finding and access a list of suggested guidelines and toolkits.

This information is also availble in a PDF version pdf icon [PDF - 426 KB].

Summary of Community Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation

The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) recommends classroom-based physical activity break interventions to increase physical activity among primary school students.

Major Findings

The CPSTF recommendation is based on evidence from 22 studies included in a systematic review published in 2020.1 Median increases in student outcomes were reported for the following A young girl wearing a backpack jumps into the air.

  • Time spent in moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity while at school (4.3 minutes)
  • Number of steps taken during the school day (960 steps)
  • Time spent being attentive to classroom lessons following breaks (26.2 minutes)

What are Classroom-based Physical Activity Breaks?

Teachers implement physical activity breaks between classroom lessons to regularly engage students in short bouts of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity. Sessions are scheduled one to three times each school day and last four to ten minutes each. Interventions provide training for teachers and may include access to web or video resources designed to engage students in exercises and dance routines.

Why is This Important?

  • Regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence improves strength and endurance, helps build healthy bones and muscles, helps control weight, improves cognitive function, reduces risk of depression, and may improve cardiovascular health.2
  • Less than one-quarter (23%) of children 6 to 17 years of age participate in 60 minutes of physical activity every day.3
  • Schools may help students attain the nationally-recommended 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily.4

Learn More

CDC, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity External Web Site Icon

CDC, Healthy Schools, Classroom Physical Activity External Web Site Icon

References

1 Masini A, Marini S, Gori D, Leoni E, Rochira A, Dallolio L. Evaluation of school-based interventions of activity breaks in primary schools: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 2020;23:377-84.

2 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2018.

3 The Child & Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI). 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health. Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health;2016. Available at URL: www.childhealthdata.org/browse/survey.

4 US Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2018.


Established in 1996 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) is an independent, nonfederal panel of public health and prevention experts whose members are appointed by the director of CDC. CPSTF provides information for a wide range of decision makers on programs, services, and other interventions aimed at improving population health. Although CDC provides administrative, scientific, and technical support for CPSTF, the recommendations developed are those of CPSTF and do not undergo review or approval by CDC. Find more information at www.thecommunityguide.org.