Are We There Yet? Compliance with Physical Activity Standards in YMCA Afterschool Programs

  • Published on Aug 2016

Background: In 2011, the YMCA of the United States adopted physical activity standards for all their afterschool programs (ASPs), which call for children to accumulate 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) while attending YMCA ASPs. The extent to which youth attending YMCA ASPs achieve this standard is unknown.

Methods: Using a cluster-stratified design, 20 ASPs were sampled from all YMCA-operated ASPs across South Carolina (N = 102). ASPs were visited on four unannounced, nonconsecutive weekdays. Accelerometer-derived minutes spent in MVPA were dichotomized to ≥30 min/d of MVPA and <30 min/d of MVPA. Program characteristics were measured through document review and direct observation and compared to MVPA levels using random-effects quantile regression.

Results: Boys (n = 607) and girls (n = 475) accumulated a median of 25.3 and 17.1 min/d of MVPA, respectively, which translated into 33% (range 6.2%–67.3%) and 17% (0%–42.6%) achieving the 30 min/d of MVPA standard, respectively. Increase in time scheduled for activity (10.7–11.7 min/d of MVPA), limited sedentary choices during activity time (6.9–8.9 min/d of MVPA), and staff activity-promotion training (4.8–7.9 min/d of MVPA) were associated with higher accumulated minutes of MVPA for boys and girls. Program revenue, percent activity structure that was for free play, and indoor/outdoor space were inconsistently related to meeting the MVPA standard.

Conclusions: Modifiable programmatic structures were associated with higher amounts of MVPA. These findings suggest that simple programmatic changes could help ASPs to achieve the MVPA standard, regardless of infrastructure or finances.


  • Michael W. Beets, MEd, MPH, PhD 1
  • Robert Glenn Weaver, PhD 1
  • Gabrielle Turner-McGrievy, PhD, MS, RD 1
  • Justin B. Moore, PhD, MS 2
  • Collin Webster, PhD 1
  • Keith Brazendale, MS 1
  • Jessica Chandler, MS 1
  • Mahmud Khan, PhD 1
  • Ruth Saunders, PhD 1
  • Aaron Beighle, PhD 3


Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.
Department of Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC.
Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY.


Childhood Obesity


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