At the Mercy of the Gods: Associations Between Weather, Physical Activity, and Sedentary Time in Children

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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  • 1 University of South Australia
  • | 2 Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute
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Objectives:

This study investigated associations between weather conditions, physical activity, and sedentary time in primary school-aged children in Australia and Canada.

Methods:

Cross-sectional data on 9–11-year-old children from the Australian (n = 491) and Canadian (n = 524) sites of the International Study of Childhood Obesity, Lifestyle and the Environment were used. Minutes of daily moderate-to-vigorous-physical-activity (MVPA) and sedentary time were determined from 7-day, 24-h accelerometry (Actigraph GT3X+ triaxial accelerometer). Day-matched weather data (temperature, rainfall, snowfall, relative humidity, wind speed) were obtained from the closest weather station to participants’ schools. Covariates included parental highest education level, day type, sex, and BMI z-scores. Generalized mixed model analyses allowing for clustering of participants within schools were completed. Scatterplots with Loess curves were created for maximum temperature, MVPA, and sedentary time.

Results:

Daily maximum temperature was significantly associated with MVPA and sedentary time in Australia (MVPA p = .05, sedentary p = .01) and Canada (p < .001, p = .001). Rainfall was negatively associated with MVPA in Australia (p < .001) and positively associated with sedentary time in Canada (p = .02).

Conclusions:

MVPA and sedentary time appear to be optimal when the maximum temperature ranges between 20°C and 25°C in both countries. The findings have implications for study design and interpretation for surveillance and intervention studies.

Lewis, Maher, and Olds are with the Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA), University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia. Belanger and Chaput are with the Health Active Living and Obesity Research Group, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Tremblay is with Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Address author correspondence to Lucy Kate Lewis at lucy.lewis@unisa.edu.au.