Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Health and Human Performance (Exercise Science Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Health and Human Performance

Committee Chair

Steve Gaskill

Commitee Members

Carla Cox, James Laskin


children, exercise, physical education, recess, sport, students, academic performance, accelerometers


University of Montana


STATEMENT OF PROBLEM: Physical activity (PA) is a critical determinant of long term health and is necessary for the prevention of youth onset–adult diseases. It is recommended that all youth accumulate at least 60+ min of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) most days of the week in bouts lasting at least 10 min. PURPOSE: To evaluate the PA patterns of Missoula youth in order to make better recommendations for PA interventions for a wellness policy. METHODS: 324 elementary and middle school students from 5 schools wore accelerometers on their wrists for 5 days. The data were converted to activity energy expenditure (AEE) and also evaluated for single min and bouts of activity lasting at least 10 min of MVPA daily, in- versus out-of-school, and during sport, physical education (PE), and recess. Grade and gender differences were also assessed. RESULTS: The data show better than national averages in daily min of MVPA, with 70% of all students meeting the recommendation in 10 min bouts. Students showed low levels of MVPA during PE, recess, and sport. Sport was responsible for the highest accumulation of MVPA, followed by recess and then PE in both 1 and 10 min bouts. There was a drop in MVPA in both genders as grade level increased (both in and out of school), with more MVPA in single and 10 min bouts occurring out of school than in school. Males showed higher levels of MVPA than females during PE in 1 min bouts, recess in 1 and 10 min bouts, and in school in 1 and 10 min bouts. When scaled for body weight, genders did not differ in AEE. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest an overall healthy youth PA environment in Missoula. However, the 30% of students not meeting the recommendations for health in 10 min bouts are still of concern. Interventions could focus on encouraging slight increases of MVPA during PE, sport, and recess, especially at the middle school level. Increasing out of school MVPA is also necessary to make the biggest impact due to already overburdened school systems.



© Copyright 2008 Laura Leigh Mohar