Environmental and Behavioral Influences of Physical Activity in Junior High School Students

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

Increasing access and opportunity for physical activity (PA) in schools are effective; however, not everyone experiences the same effects. Prompting and reinforcement may encourage more frequent participation in recreational PA during the school day. The purpose of this study was to investigate a lunchtime PA intervention on whole school PA participation and whether behavioral support enhanced these effects.

Methods:

A modified reversal design compared an environmental and an environmental plus behavioral support intervention on lunchtime PA participation versus baseline levels in a suburban junior high school in the western United States (N = 1452). PA and related contextual data were collected using systematic observation.

Results:

Significantly more girls and boys were observed in PA during the interventions compared with baseline phases (F2,1173 = 13.52, P < .0001, η2 = .023; F2,1173 = 20.14, P < .0001, η2 = .033, for girls and boys, respectively). There were no significant differences between the environmental phase and the environment plus behavioral support phase.

Conclusion:

Providing access and opportunity significantly increased the number of girls and boys observed in PA during a lunchtime program, with no additive effects of behavioral support. Further research into providing the individual-level contingencies at an institutional level is needed.

Lorenz is with the Dept of Kinesiology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA. van der Mars and Kulinna are with the Physical Education Teacher Education Program, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ. Ainsworth is with the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ. Hovell is with the Center for Behavioral Epidemiology and Community Health, Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA.

Lorenz (kalorenz@sfsu.edu) is corresponding author.
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