Indoor school environments, physical activity, sitting behaviour and pedagogy: a scoping review

Marcella Ucci, Stephen Law, Richard Andrews, Abi Fisher, Lee Smith, Alexia Sawyer, Alexi Marmot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Physical activity levels in children are low and sitting time high, despite the health benefits of regular physical activity and limited sitting. Children spend a large proportion of their time at school, hence school-based interventions targeting physical activity and sitting behaviour may be important. Whilst some aspects of school buildings, their layout and furniture may influence children's physical activity and sitting, these effects could be intertwined with pedagogical approaches. This scoping review aims to identify gaps in the research literature regarding the influence of the indoor school environment on pedagogical approaches and on physical activity and sitting. In primary schools, it was found that physical activity can be integrated into lessons with some benefits on academic behaviour and possibly academic performance. Overall, however, the role of the indoor built environment is poorly investigated, although a handful of studies suggest that a radical change in primary school classrooms may increase physical activity and that stand-biased desks may be promising. This study provides a contribution to the emerging research fields of ‘active design’ from the perspective of indoor school design, highlighting a dearth of research, especially on sitting and for secondary education, and a lack of relevant conceptual frameworks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)566-581
Number of pages16
JournalBuilding Research & Information
Issue number5
Early online date5 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • active design
  • built environment
  • children
  • education
  • pedagogy
  • physical activity
  • schools
  • sedentary behaviour
  • sitting

Cite this