European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 171, Issue 12, pp 1805–1813 | Cite as

Accelerometry-assessed sedentary behaviour and physical activity levels during the segmented school day in 10–14-year-old children: the HAPPY study

  • Daniel P. Bailey
  • Stuart J. Fairclough
  • Louise A. Savory
  • Sarah J. Denton
  • Dong Pang
  • Colleen S. Deane
  • Catherine J. Kerr
Original Article


The school day offers several different time periods that provide varying opportunities for sedentary time (SED) and engagement in physical activity (PA), yet little is known about the PA and sedentary behaviour patterns of boys and girls during these times. The volume, intensity and temporal distributions of SED and PA undertaken by 135 schoolchildren aged 10–14 years, during different segments of the school day: (a) school transport, (b) morning recess, (c) lunch break, (d) class time and (e) after school, were explored using triaxial accelerometry. PA was categorised into SED, light PA (LPA), moderate PA (MPA) and vigorous PA (VPA). Girls engaged in significantly more SED and LPA than boys during recess and lunch break (p < 0.05), while boys engaged in significantly higher levels of VPA during recess (p < 0.001) and MPA and VPA during lunch break (p < 0.001). PA engagement was similar between sexes during other segments of the day. Conclusion: PA patterns appear more beneficial for health in boys during less structured school-based time periods and interventions may therefore target opportunities for girls to be physically active during these times to overcome this observed sex deficit.


Accelerometry Adolescents Children Physical activity Sedentary behaviour 



The authors would like to thank the participants who gave their time to the study. We would also like to thank all of the schools who helped facilitate the research. This study was funded by the Bedford Charity.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel P. Bailey
    • 1
  • Stuart J. Fairclough
    • 2
  • Louise A. Savory
    • 1
  • Sarah J. Denton
    • 1
  • Dong Pang
    • 3
  • Colleen S. Deane
    • 1
  • Catherine J. Kerr
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Sport and Physical Activity ResearchUniversity of BedfordshireBedfordUK
  2. 2.Research Institute for Sport and Exercise SciencesLiverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK
  3. 3.Institute for Health ResearchUniversity of BedfordshireBedfordUK

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