The school setting provides a promising environment to increase children’s physical activity (PA), however, staff often impact the success of PA within schools. The purpose of this article was to describe the knowledge of elementary school staff related to PA and their perception of the importance of the school environment being conducive to PA prior to the implementation of a recess intervention. Qualitative focus groups were conducted in 12 elementary schools in the Midwest. Grounded theory was used to explore participants’ knowledge and perceptions. Participants felt PA was important but believed several factors impacted children’s ability to be more active: (i) lack of time due to increasing academic demands, (ii) peer pressure (especially in girls) not to be active and (iii) lack of space and equipment. When discussing recess, staff felt that their encouragement of or active participation in PA with children resulted in more activity. Furthermore, even though participants were aware of PA benefits, they noticed eliminating recess was often used as a punishment for misbehavior. School-based PA promotion and PA opportunities hold great promise for increasing PA in children. However, to maximize these efforts school polices related to training staff about PA are needed.
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