Children’s Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity Attending Summer Day Camps

Published:February 14, 2017DOI:


      National physical activity standards call for all children to accumulate 60 minutes/day of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). The contribution of summer day camps toward meeting this benchmark is largely unknown. The purpose of this study was to provide estimates of children’s MVPA during summer day camps.


      Children (n=1,061, 78% enrollment; mean age, 7.8 years; 46% female; 65% African American; 48% normal weight) from 20 summer day camps wore ActiGraph GT3x+ accelerometers on the wrist during camp hours for up to 4 non-consecutive days over the summer of 2015 (July). Accumulated MVPA at the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentile of the distribution was estimated using random-effects quantile regression. All models were estimated separately for boys and girls and controlled for wear time. Minutes of MVPA were dichotomized to ≥60 minutes/day of MVPA or <60 minutes/day to estimate percentage of boys and girls meeting the 60 minutes/day guideline. All data were analyzed in spring 2016.


      Across the 20 summer day camps, boys (n=569) and girls (n=492) accumulated a median of 96 and 82 minutes/day of MVPA, respectively. The percentage of children meeting 60 minutes/day of MVPA was 80% (range, 41%−94%) for boys and 73% (range, 30%–97%) for girls.


      Summer day camps are a setting where a large portion of boys and girls meet daily physical activity guidelines. Public health practitioners should focus efforts on making summer day camps accessible for children in the U.S.
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      1. American Camping Association. 2015 Fall Enrollment Summary Results. Accessed March 21, 2016.

      2. U.S. DHHS. 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Accessed March 23, 2016.

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