Comparisons of play, chronic stress levels, and body composition in elementary school children of six public schoolsShow full item record
|Comparisons of play, chronic stress levels, and body composition in elementary school children of six public schools
|Kirby, Kelsey Jo
|Master of Science
|The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of unstructured daily play participation on chronic and perceived stress patterns and obesity prevalence in elementary school children compared to children receiving standard recess time in elementary schools. Fourth grade students (n=130) from six north Texas public schools were assessed using the Stress in Children (SiC) Questionnaire, hair cortisol concentration, body fat percentage, and whether they engaged in 30 minutes or 45 minutes of unstructured play daily. Three schools of students (control; n=66) engaged in 30 minutes of recess daily and three schools of students (intervention; n=64) engaged in 45 minutes of recess daily. SiC questionnaires were administered to each participant on an electronic device via Qualtrics to obtain their perceived chronic stress level. Hair samples were collected to assess the actual chronic cortisol level in each child. The cortisol was analyzed using ELISA protocol following cortisol extraction procedures. Bioelectrical impedance scales were used to collect fat percentage of each student. Previous research shows the average 9-year-old will have a hair cortisol level of 6.7 pg/mg, and the average 10-year-old will have a hair cortisol level of 8.5 pg/mg. An independent samples t-test showed the intervention group was significantly less chronically stressed than the control group (p = .018). The intervention students showed below average levels of chronic stress (9-year-olds = 6.27 pg/mg and 10-year-olds = 3.67 pg/mg) while the control school children were at or above average levels of chronic stress (9-year-olds = 20.89 pg/mg and 10-year-olds = 13.16 pg/mg). No significant group differences were found in SiC scores or body fat percentages (>.05) of participants. Overall, findings suggest 45 minutes of unstructured, outdoor play has a positive impact on lowering chronic cortisol levels. For children participating in at least 30 minutes of unstructured, outdoor play, body fat levels, on average, will be healthy, but 45 minutes is significantly more beneficial for decreasing and managing chronic stress. Keywords: children, unstructured play, chronic hair cortisol concentration, body fat percentage, obesity prevalence, The LiiNK Project
|Rhea, Debbie J.
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- Masters Theses