Class time physical activity programs for primary school aged children at specialist schools: a systematic mapping review

Chloe Emonson, Jane McGillivray, Emily J. Kothe, Nicole Rinehart, Nicole Papadopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Children with disabilities tend to be less active than typically developing peers and may therefore miss important developmental benefits. Class time physical activity (PA) programs can provide additional PA to children and have shown to contribute to numerous benefits in mainstream classrooms. However, it is unclear whether class time PA opportunities are provided in specialist education settings. This review aimed to identify and map class time PA programs that have been implemented in specialist schools and classes. Nine electronic databases were searched. Grey literature searches were also conducted. Programs were included if they were implemented in a primary/elementary specialist school or class, involved a PA component, were conducted during class time and involved more than one child from the class participating. Included programs were mapped and narratively synthesised according to activity type. Of the 2068 records screened, 34 programs were included. Programs involving dance/drama activities (k = 11) were most common and programs involving stretching activities (k = 2) were least frequently implemented. Twenty-three programs had been evaluated, of which only two were randomised controlled trials. More class time PA opportunities are warranted in specialist education settings. Further research is required to build the evidence base for these programs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5140
Number of pages30
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Children
  • Class
  • Disability
  • Mapping review
  • Physical activity
  • Special education

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