Physical activity levels of children in special schools

  • McKenzie T
  • Sit C
  • Lian J
 et al. 
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Children's physical activity (PA) has been studied extensively, but little information is available on those with disabilities. We sought to examine the PA of children with disabilities during physical education (PE) and recess while simultaneously documenting environmental conditions.Method.
Five schools designed for students with four types of special needs (physical disability, mild intellectual disability, hearing impairment, and visual impairment) participated. We used the System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time (SOFIT) to code the PA of children in grades 4 to 6 during both PE and recess and to document teacher behavior and lesson context in PE. Observations were conducted during 2 school days over a 2-week period.Results.
Children accrued little moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during PE (7.8 min) and recess (8.9 min). Activity levels varied across disability types, with differences attributed to lesson context and teacher behavior. Children with physical disabilities were the least active during both PE and recess.Conclusions.
Children with disabilities accrue little PA at school. Increased PE frequency and lesson intensity, more PA opportunities during non-structured school time, and collaborations with home and community agencies are needed to reach PA recommendations.

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  • Thomas L. McKenzie

  • Cindy H.P. Sit

  • John Lian

  • Alison McManus

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