Recess / Recess Before Lunch

The daily exercise that results from recess helps to improve health and physical fitness, and there are many benefits to scheduling recess before lunch. Use these resources to learn more!

School Health Guidelines to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (September 2011) (PDF | 973 KB)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Guideline 2 (p. 18) includes recess before lunch as a recommendation (under ‘Provide adequate and safe spaces and facilities for healthy eating’).

School Wellness Policy: Recess

Public Health Law Center.

Sample policy language around recess with background information and useful references.

Recess Before Lunch A Guide for Success (September 2003)

Montana Team Nutrition.

Provides the background and the “How to” for implementing a recess before lunch program with practical tips and examples.

Recess before Lunch in Elementary Schools: Development of a Best Practice Checklist (2009)

Institute of Child Nutrition.

A study to determine the best practices related to recess placement before lunch in elementary schools, to compile a best practice checklist that can be used as an assessment tool for school nutrition programs, and to validate and evaluate the usefulness of the best practice checklist.

Relationships of Meal and Recess Schedules to Plate Waste in Elementary Schools (2003)

Institute of Child Nutrition.

Results of a study that explored the relationship of the lunch meal to recess placement as relating to plate waste and nutrient consumption.

The Benefits of Recess before Lunch: Creating a Healthier Classroom (PDF | 123 KB)

South Dakota Department of Education. Child and Adult Nutrition Services.

A fact sheet including resources and tips to implement recess before lunch.

Recess Placement Prior to Lunch in Elementary Schools: What Are the Barriers?

School Nutrition Association, The Journal of Child Nutrition & Management.

A study to determine barriers to scheduling recess prior to lunch in schools participating in the National School Lunch Program.

Iowa Recess Before Lunch (July 2014) (PDF | 1.19 MB)

Iowa Team Nutrition Program; Iowa State University Extension; Midwest Dairy Council.

Pilot programs were conducted in 3 Iowa elementary schools. Results per school building and a guide to assist schools in making the determination of moving recess before lunch are available.

Challenges, Benefits and Essential Factors for Success in Implementing a Recess Before Lunch Schedule in Montana Elementary School: 2008 Survey Results (January 2009) (PDF | 40 KB)

Montana Team Nutrition.

A pilot project with four elementary schools that implemented a recess before lunch schedule to evaluate its impact.

Recess before Lunch Programs in Elementary Schools: Perceptions and Practices of School Professionals (2009)

School Nutrition Association. The Journal of Child Nutrition & Management.

A study examining the perceptions of school nutrition directors, principals/assistant principals, and teachers regarding issues important to consider when scheduling recess in relation to lunch, and to describe practices related to successfully implementing a recess before lunch program.

Benefits of Recess before Lunch Fact Sheet (PDF | 957 KB)

Hamilton County Coordinated School Health Committee, Cincinnati, OH.

A five-page fact sheet highlighting the benefits of recess before lunch. Also includes other helpful resources.

Modifying the Recess Before Lunch program: a pilot study in Kaneohe Elementary School (2005) (PDF | 99 KB)

Californian Journal of Health Promotion.

A pilot study assessing the feasibility of implementing a modified version of RBL into elementary schools in Hawai‘i.

Increasing Physical Activity Through Recess (January 2012)

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

A brief presenting findings from a number of research studies about the benefits of recess breaks.

The State of Play: Gallup Survey of Principals on School Recess (February 2010)

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

A survey asking elementary school principals what they think about recess and its value to the school day.

Recess Rules: Why the undervalued playtime may be America's best investment for healthy kids and healthy schools (September 2007)

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

A report analyzing several sources of data to identify opportunities for increasing children’s physical activity and to understand the factors that could contribute to or impair efforts to maximize those opportunities.

Increasing Physical Activity Through Recess (January 2012)

Active Living Research.

This research brief provides a detailed overview of the key research results and policy implications for increasing physical activity through recess.