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Contribution of Physical Education and Recess to Children’s Habitual Physical Activity

This study explored the contribution of physical education and recess to children’s physical activity (PA) behavior and examined whether they compensate for missed PA opportunities. Participants’ (N = 115; age: 9.2 ± 0.6 years) PA was measured using accelerometry across multiple time periods, including data from school days and weekends. Data collection occurred over 6–7 weeks, with 2 weeks in between each period. Physical education and recess accounted for 22.98% (SD = 8.32) and 19.71% (SD = 6.87) moderate-to-vigorous PA, and 16.06% (SD = 4.54) and 14.65% (SD = 4.45) total PA, respectively. Analyses revealed differences between physical education and non-physical education days (Wilks’s λ = 0.80, p < .001; partial η2 = 0.20) and physical education and weekend days (Wilks’s λ = 0.67, p < .001; partial η2 = 0.33). Physical education contributed to habitual PA more than previously thought; schools should be increasing, not reducing, opportunities.