The quality of school physical activity policies within Maryland and Virginia

Erin M. Smith, Grace Wilburn, Paul A. Estabrooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Background: Since the adoption of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, many researchers have examined changes in the school nutrition environment; however, far less research has focused on the evaluation of physical activity (PA) policies within public schools. Methods: School district wellness policies (n = 144) of Virginia and Maryland were coded using a previously validated audit tool with a scale of 0 (weakest, least comprehensive) to 1 (strongest, most comprehensive). Results: Mean policy strength was weak (.20 ± .15), and, on average, policies were moderately comprehensive (.40 ± .22). The strongest (.73 ± .44) and most comprehensive (.79 ± .40) policy subgroup addressed daily recess in elementary schools. Virginia had significantly higher scores in 9 policy groups, while Maryland had higher significant policy scores in the 2 following groups: (1) the strength and comprehensiveness of a written physical education (PE) curriculum for each grade level (Ps < .05) and (2) the strength and comprehensiveness of addressing the use of PE waivers (Ps < .05). Conclusions: PA wellness policies in Maryland and Virginia are extremely weak and only moderately comprehensive; it is unlikely that these policies will significantly influence school-based PA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-505
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physical Activity and Health
Volume12
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

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Keywords

  • Local wellness policy
  • Physical education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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