Do Short Physical Activity Breaks in Classrooms Work?

As funding for formal physical education programs continues to be reduced in many states, schools are exploring other ways to help kids be active. Towards that end, there has been recent growth in the use of classroom physical activity breaks—short periods during which students can get up and move in the classroom. This brief summarizes the research on the impacts of classroom physical activity breaks.

Key Findings:

Providing short physical activity breaks during the school day can:

  • increase physical activity in students;
  • help improve on-task behavior; and
  • improve some measures of health.

However, such breaks also may compete with other school priorities—and hence be perceived negatively by teachers—and they may not improve all measures of physical activity or health. The authors of this brief note that, while more research is needed to determine how classroom physical activity breaks can be most effective, they may help schools meet state requirements for daily school-based physical activity.

The brief was produced by Active Living Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.