Evidence from a limited sample of countries indicates that time for physical education and recess during school have declined. Schools are called to provide children with 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). This systematic review and meta-analysis estimated temporal trends in children’s school day MVPA.
Three online databases were searched to identify studies with objectively measured MVPA, during school hours, in school aged children (5-18 y). Multilevel random-effects meta-analyses estimated MVPA by year, and meta-regression analyses estimated temporal trends in school day MVPA.
Studies (N = 65) providing 171 MVPA estimates, representing 60,779 unique children, from 32 countries, and spanning 2003-2019 were identified. Most studies were conducted in North America (n = 33) or Europe (n = 21). School day MVPA ranged from 18.1 (95% confidence interval, 15.1-21.1) to 47.1 (95% confidence interval, 39.4-54.8) minutes per day in any given year. Meta-regression analyses indicated that MVPA declined from 2003 to 2010 (approximately 15 min decline), plateaued from 2010 to 2015 (approximately 1 min decrease), and increased from 2015 to 2019 (approximately 5 min increase).
School day MVPA decreased from 2003 to 2010 and has recently begun to increase. However, the majority of the evidence is from North America and Europe with some evidence from Oceania and very little evidence from Asia to South America.