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Physical Activity During Recess

Physical activity – what can be done by school children and adolescents during recess for 20 minutes?


Physical activity is defined as movement involving the skeletal muscles and bones that result in energy   expenditure. Physical activity is influenced by four main variables such as frequency, intensity, types and duration.

Physical activity is important not only for the wellbeing of children and adolescents but also the adults and the elderly. Children and adolescents who are physically active have a better chance of enjoying a healthy adulthood. They generally do not develop chronic diseases such as heart diseases, hypertension, diabetes or osteoporosis.

Physical activity and chronic disease prevention

Obese children and adolescents are at risk of developing various chronic diseases in adulthood such as heart diseases and diabetes. It has been documented that the presence of chronic risk factors in children is associated with low aerobic fitness and low levels of physical activity.

Physical activity recommendations for children and adolescents

It is recommended that children and adolescents accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to high intensity physical activity in a day. Physical activities that produce high stresses on the bones such as jumping, running, table tennis, badminton and squash should be emphasized. More importantly physical activities that are generally safe and enjoyed by young should always be encouraged so that they continue to engage in these activities way into their adulthood and beyond. Structured physical activities should also encourage playing for pleasure, entertainment and participation rather than competition.

Activities that can be done during recess

  1. Star jump

Star jumping or also known as jumping jack, is jumping with hands at the sides but in mid-air spreading the legs wide, hands clapping overhead and at the end of the jump returning to original position. This is a high intensity physical activity that promotes aerobic fitness as well as healthy bone development.

Many jumps can be done in a minute. The world record is 50,482 jumps in 12 hours 27 minutes set in 1988 by Troy Shawn Harris in USA. The average number of jump works out to be 61 per minute. Star jumping is fun and is best done when with friends.

Instructions for star jump:

Star jump is great for the legs and arms. It can build up aerobic fitness.

  1. Stand with legs together and hands by the side
  2. Jump with legs spreading wide and hands moving up over the head and clap
  3. Land with your feet together while bringing your hand by your sides
  4. Repeat
  5. Keep knees slightly bent while landing to absorb shocks
  6. You can also perform star jump from a crouching position
Shows star jump in motion1 Shows star jump in motion2

Figure 1: Shows star jump in motion

  1. Skipping

This is a very simple exercise which is low cost but high impact exercise that can be performed during a very short period of time. A 10 minutes workout can burn up to 135 calories. It is best done during recess and is highly recommended for the inactive and obese children. Skipping is an express workout that sculpts the shoulders, arms, legs and the body shape in general.

A 15 minute Jump Rope Workout

Jump rope or skipping requires not much practice. All you need is your recess time of 15 minutes, a skipping rope and a flat surface to skip. Skipping improves your cardiovascular fitness, strengthen the bones and is great for the legs, arms, chest and the abdomen.


Figure 2: Shows the various stages of skipping.

Instructions for skipping:

  1. Do some light warm up exercises
  2. Hold the skipping rope in your hands, positioning them at the hips level.
  3. Stand with knees slightly bent
  4. Jump by pushing off with the balls of your feet at the same time moving the rope below your legs and above your body
  5. Keep knees soft and the body straight.
  6. Repeat and increase your speed accordingly
  7. Continue for 10-15 minutes
  8. Cool down by doing some stretching exercises

Skipping can be fun and the movements can be varied as you become more efficient.

Benefits of Star jump and skipping are:

  • Healthy bone, joints and muscle development
  • For inactive and obese children, it is a great way to get started and lose weight as well
  • Prevention of chronic diseases
  • It can prevent asthma in obese children as they lose weight
  • It improves academic performance


  • 15 minute jump rope workout by Sara Diguiio
  • Malaysian Dietary Guidelines For Children and Adolescents
  • Wikipedia

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