UBC Theses and Dissertations
School-based factors associated with physical education amount and physical activity levels of students in Ontario elementary schools Naiman, Daniel I.
BACKROUND: As very few Canadian children are meeting the recommended physical activity (PA) levels suggested for maximal health benefits, gaining an understanding of the role of the school-environment in PA promotion is critical. While physical education (PE) classes have the potential for increasing PA levels of students both inside and outside school, little is known about why some schools are providing more PE than others. PURPOSE: The purpose of this exploratory study was to 1) determine what school-level factors were associated with the number of PE classes provided to elementary school students and 2) determine how these school factors, including PE amount, were associated with the PA levels of students. METHODS: Multi-level regression techniques were used to explore which school-level and student-level variables were associated with the PE amount provided to students and their PA levels. Administrator (n=30) and student (n=2,447) responses from two separate surveys from the PLAY-ON study were used to answer the study questions. RESULTS: After adjusting for important demographic characteristics, the number of PE classes reported per week was higher in schools that had two PA facilities in addition to a gymnasium (β=1.13, p =0.048) and in schools with greater levels of parental involvement in school-based PA decisions and programs (β=2.06, p =0.001). In contrast, students in schools that provided intramural programs reported fewer PE classes than those in schools without (β=-1.97, p <0.001). Finally, the number of PE classes provided to students in the previous week was associated with greater odds of students being highly active compared to minimally active (OR=1.14, p=0.003). CONCLUSION: The results of this study highlight the inconsistent amount of PE that students in Ontario elementary schools are receiving. The findings also reinforce previous research showing that greater amounts of PE are associated with increased PA levels of students. Schools that have fewer PA facilities and have more difficult communication lines with parents may be at risk of providing students with lower amounts of PE.
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