Personal, Social, and Environmental Influences on Physical Activity in Groups of Children As Defined by Different Physical Activity Patterns

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Interventions promoting physical activity (PA) in youth have had limited success, in part because studies with methodological challenges have yielded an incomplete understanding of personal, social, and environmental influences on PA. This study described changes in these factors for subgroups of youth with initially high PA that decreased (Active-Decline) compared with children with initially low PA that decreased (Inactive-Decline) from fifth to ninth grades. Methods: Observational, prospective cohort design. Participants (n = 625) were fifth-grade children recruited in 2 school districts and followed from elementary to high school. Students and their parents responded to questionnaires to assess personal, social, and perceived physical environmental factors in the fifth (mean age = 10.5 [.5] y) and ninth (mean age = 14.7 [.6] y) grades. Analyses included a mixed-model 2-way repeated analysis of variances. Results: Children in the Active-Decline compared with those in the Inactive-Decline group showed a more favorable profile in 6 of 8 personal variables (perceived barriers, self-efficacy, self-schema, enjoyment, competence, and fitness motives) and 4 of 6 social variables (friend support, parent encouragement, parent support, and parent-reported support). Conclusions: The results suggest efforts to promote PA should target selected personal, social, and perceived environmental factors beginning before age 10 and continuing through adolescence.

Saunders is with the Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA. Dishman is with the Department of Kinesiology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA. Dowda and Pate are with the Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA.

Saunders (rsaunders@sc.edu) is corresponding author.
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