How active are rural children and adolescents during PE class? An examination of light physical activity

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BACKGROUND—Few studies have examined non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) or light physical activity among a group of rural youth, particularly during physical education (PE) class. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the percent of PE class time spent in NEAT is related to school level (elementary versus high school) in a group of rural youth. METHODS—Accelerometer data from 357 students (192 elementary, 165 high school) were included in the analysis. Mixed model linear regression was performed to examine the effect of school level on the percent of PE class time spent in NEAT. Covariates included gender, PE teacher, and the duration of the PE class. RESULTS—School level was a significant predictor of the percent of PE class time spent in NEAT. Specifically, elementary school students spent more of their PE class time in NEAT than high school students (p< .001). No other significant predictors were identified. CONCLUSIONS—The results of this study suggest an association between lower levels of light (NEAT) physical activity among high school versus elementary school students during PE class.