Contribution of school recess to daily physical activity: systematic review and evidence appraisal

John J Reilly, Grant Johnston, Stuart McIntosh, Anne Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The present study aimed to estimate school recess moderate-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA). Methods: A systematic review was carried out in MEDLINE and SportDiscus to identify observational studies where MVPA had been measured objectively during school recess. Study quality was assessed formally. Results: Twenty-four eligible studies in primary school pupils (N= 5,778 individuals), revealed a weighted mean of 12 minutes MVPA per school day. Only two eligible studies were identified in high school pupils (N= 399 individuals). The evidence was generally of moderately high quality. Conclusions: Recess makes a small contribution to daily MVPA. Substantial policy effort is likely to be needed if recess is to make a more useful contribution to MVPA among children and adolescents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-589
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Behavior and Policy Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • school
  • physical activity
  • child
  • exercise
  • youth
  • systematic review
  • accelerometer

Cite this