4 Minutes of In-Class High-Intensity Interval Activity Improves Classroom Behaviour and Selective Attention in Elementary School Children

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Ma, Jasmin
Behaviour , Cognitive function , Physical activity
The inclusion of adequate physical activity time within schools is difficult when curriculum time is already saturated with a focus on skills that improve academic achievement. Time-efficient physical activity solutions that demonstrate their impact on academic achievement related outcomes are needed to prioritize physical activity within the school curricula. FUNtervals are 4-minute high-intensity interval activities that use whole body actions to complement a storyline. The purpose of this thesis was four-fold. 1) To develop a resource of classroom appropriate high-intensity interval activities (FUNtervals) 2) to examine the effects of FUNtervals on classroom behaviour and 3) selective attention in elementary school children and lastly 4) to determine whether classroom behaviour predicts changes in selective attention following FUNtervals. Over the past two years, two separate studies have compared FUNtervals (FUN) to No Activity (NA) days using observations of off-task behaviour and administration of the d2 test of attention. Results from the first study showed mean percentages of passive and motor off-task behaviour were significantly decreased in both the grade 2 and 4 classrooms following FUNterval activity (Grade 4: Passive, MNA =29% ± 13% vs. MFUN = 25% ± 13%, p<0.05, ES= 0.31; Motor, MNA =31% ± 16% vs. MFUN = 24% ± 13%, p<0.01, ES= 0.48); Grade 2: Passive MNA =23% ± 14% vs. MFUN = 14% ± 10v, p<0.01, ES= 0.74; Motor MNA =29% ± 17% vs. MFUN = 14% ± 10%, p<=0.01, ES= 1.08) with verbal off-task behaviour decreasing in the grade 2 class only (NA=8% ± 8% vs. FUN= 5% ± 5%, p<0.05, ES= 0.45). The second study demonstrated that students made fewer errors during the d2 test of attention (% Error; MFUN=3.4% ±0.3% vs. MNA=4.4% ±0.5%, p= 0.001, ES= 0.26) following FUNtervals. Further, a significant relationship between baseline verbal classroom behaviour and changes in selective attention following FUNtervals was observed (EComm: R=.27, P=0.03; E%: R=.27, P=0.02; CP: R=.24, P=0.05). In supporting the priority of physical activity inclusion within schools, FUNtervals, a time-efficient and easily implemented physical activity break, can improve both classroom behaviour and selective attention in elementary school children.
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