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Kathryn E. Wilson, Andrew Corbett, Andrew Van Horn, Diego Guevara Beltran, Jessica D. Ayers, Joe Alcock, and Athena Aktipis

Background: Physical activity (PA) mitigated psychological distress during the initial weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, yet not much is known about whether PA had effects on stress in subsequent months. We examined the relationship between change over time in COVID-related stress and self-reported change in PA between March and July 2020. Methods: Latent growth modeling was used to examine trajectories of change in pandemic-related stress and test their association with self-reported changes in PA in an international sample (n = 679). Results: The participants reported a reduction in pandemic-related stress between April and July of 2020. Significant linear (factor mean = −0.22) and quadratic (factor mean = 0.02) changes (Ps < .001) were observed, indicating a deceleration in stress reduction over time. Linear change was related to change in PA such that individuals who became less active during the pandemic reported less stress reduction over time compared with those who maintained or increased their PA during the pandemic. Conclusions: Individuals who experienced the greatest reduction in stress over time during the pandemic were those who maintained their activity levels or became more active. Our study cannot establish a causal relationship between these variables, but the findings are consistent with other work showing that PA reduces stress.

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Miquel Martorell, Lorena Mardones, Fanny Petermann-Rocha, Maria Adela Martinez-Sanguinetti, Ana Maria Leiva-Ordoñez, Claudia Troncoso-Pantoja, Fernando Flores, Igor Cigarroa, Francisco Perez-Bravo, Natalia Ulloa, Daniel Mondaca-Rojas, Ximena Diaz-Martinez, Carlos Celis-Morales, Marcelo Villagran, and on behalf of the Epidemiology of Lifestyle and Health Outcomes in Chile Consortium

Background: Genetic variants within the FTO gene have been associated with increased adiposity and metabolic markers; however, there is limited evidence regarding the association of FTO gene variants with physical activity-related variables. The authors aimed to investigate the association of the rs17817449 single-nucleotide polymorphism of FTO with physical activity, sedentary time, and cardiorespiratory fitness in Chilean adults. Methods: A total of 409 participants from the GENADIO study were included and genotyped for the rs17817449 single-nucleotide polymorphism of FTO in this cross-sectional study. Physical activity and sedentary time were measured with ActiGraph accelerometers. Cardiorespiratory fitness was assessed using the Chester step test. The associations were assessed by using multivariate regression analyses. Results: No associations were found for FTO variant with physical activity levels and cardiorespiratory fitness. The risk allele (G) of the FTO was found to be associated with sedentary time in the minimally adjusted model (β = 19.7 min/d; 95% confidence interval, 4.0 to 35.5, per each copy of the risk allele; P = .006), but the association was no longer significant when body mass index was included as a confounder (P = .211). Conclusion: The rs17817449 single-nucleotide polymorphism of the FTO gene was not associated with the level of physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and sedentary behaviors in Chilean adults.

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Joseph J. Murphy, Fiona Mansergh, Marie H. Murphy, Niamh Murphy, Benny Cullen, Sarah O’Brien, Stephen Finn, Grainne O’Donoghue, Niamh Barry, Shirley O’Shea, Kevin M. Leyden, Peter Smyth, Jemima Cooper, Enrique G. Bengoechea, Nick Cavill, Andrew J. Milat, Adrian E. Bauman, and Catherine B. Woods

Physical activity (PA) promotion is a complex challenge, with the Global Action Plan on Physical Activity (GAPPA) endorsing a systems approach and recommending countries assess existing areas of progress which can be strengthened. This paper reports a process facilitating a systems approach for identifying current good practice and gaps for promoting PA in Ireland. Elements of participatory action research were enabled through 3 stages: (1) aligning examples of actions from Irish policy documents (n = 3) to the GAPPA, (2) workshop with stakeholders across multiple sectors, and (3) review of outputs. Data collected through the workshop were analyzed using a deductive thematic analysis guided by the GAPPA. The policy context in Ireland aligns closely to the GAPPA with the creation of Active Systems the most common strategic objective across policy documents. Forty participants (50% male) took part in the systems approach workshop, which after revision resulted in 80 examples of good practice and 121 actions for greater impact. A pragmatic and replicable process facilitating a systems approach was adopted and showed current Irish policy and practices align with the GAPPA “good practices.” The process provides existing areas of progress which can be strengthened, as well as the policy opportunities and practice gaps.

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Liz Carlin, Maxine E. Whelan, Hayley Musson, and Emma J. Adams

Background: The benefits of physical activity for preventing and managing long-term health conditions are well established and health care professionals could promote physical activity to patients. The current study aims to evaluate the impact of the Clinical Champions Physical Activity Training Program. Methods: Health care professionals attend a one-off in-person training session delivered by a trained Clinical Champion. Attendees at the Clinical Champions Physical Activity Training Program were asked to complete a baseline survey prior to the training session and follow-up surveys 4 and 12 weeks posttraining. Results: A total of 5945 training attendees completed the baseline survey. A total of 1859 and 754 participants completed 4- and 12-week follow-up (31.3% and 12.7% response rate, respectively). Significant increases in confidence to deliver brief physical activity advice and knowledge of physical activity guidelines were reported at 12 weeks (P < .001). The perceived frequency of physical activity discussions with patients significantly increased (P < .001). Twelve weeks after training, fewer barriers in promoting physical activity were reported. Conclusions: The evaluation of the Clinical Champions Physical Activity Training Program demonstrated an increase in knowledge of physical activity guidelines, levels of confidence, and frequency of delivery of brief physical activity advice to patients. Further research is required to determine if this impact translates into changes to patients’ physical activity behavior.

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Matt Nickels, Sarabjit Mastana, Veryan Codd, Matthew Denniff, and Elizabeth Akam

It is unclear how running modality influences telomere length (TL). This single laboratory visit study compared the TL of master sprinters and endurance runners with their young counterparts. The correlation between leukocyte and buccal cell TL in athletes was also explored. Participants consisted of 11 young controls, 11 young sprinters, 12 young endurance runners, 12 middle-aged controls, 11 master sprinters, and 12 master endurance runners. Blood and buccal samples were collected and randomized for analysis of TL by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Young endurance runners displayed longer telomeres than master athletes (p < .05); however, these differences were not significant when controlled for covariates (p > .05). A positive correlation existed between leukocyte and buccal cell TL in athletes (r = .567, p < .001). In conclusion, young endurance runners possess longer telomeres than master endurance runners and sprinters, a consequence of lower body mass index and visceral fat.

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Bobby Neudorf, Crystal Hughes, Courtney Ellis, Richard Neudorf, Zach Weston, and Laura Middleton

Osteoarthritis is the most common condition to co-occur with other chronic health conditions and a broad exercise program on management of chronic conditions may be suitable for this group. This study evaluated the 12-week YMCA Move for Health exercise program among adults with osteoarthritis or with/at risk of chronic health conditions using a mixed-methods study design based on the reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation, and maintenance (RE-AIM) framework. Participants (n = 66) completed the exercise program at the YMCAs in Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo. Assessments included physical function, health-related quality of life, symptoms of arthritis, and physical activity levels and were conducted at baseline (B), postprogram (PP), and 3-month postprogram. Due to interruption by COVID-19, a subgroup of participants completed the 3-month postprogram assessments after the onset of the pandemic. At PP, participants with OA showed significant improvements in level of disability (B = 0.63 ± 0.45 and PP = 0.55 ± 0.47; p = .049), pain (B = 4.3 ± 2.5 and PP = 3.6 ± 2.4; p = .026), fatigue (B = 3.9 ± 3.1 and PP = 2.8 ± 2.6; p = .003), and several domains related to health-related quality of life. Despite interruption by the COVID-19 pandemic and poor maintenance of physical activity levels, nearly all improvements related to level of disability, symptoms of arthritis, and health-related quality of life observed at PP were maintained 3-months postprogram. The Move for Health program proved to be a feasible and effective community program for people with osteoarthritis. Additional supports may be needed to maintain physical activity levels after the program.

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Jacob J. Levy, Terrance L. Tarver, and Hannah R. Douglas

Changes in exercise behavior and negative emotional states (i.e., depression, anxiety, and stress) in combat sport (e.g., boxing, wrestling, martial arts) athletes were examined the month prior to gym closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic (February 2020), and approximately 1 month following gym closures (May 2020). A total of 312 combat sport athletes from 33 different countries responded to the study solicitation. Results indicated a significant decrease in combat sport training following gym closures; however, participation in other exercise activities did not significantly change. Significant mean increases in depression, anxiety, and stress were found following combat gym closures. Regression analyses revealed that number of hours of participants participated in combat sport training added significant incremental variance explained in depressive and stress symptoms above and beyond that accounted for by sex differences, preexisting conditions, and training level. Practical implications regarding losses to preferred exercise activities are discussed.

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Megan Drew, Trent A. Petrie, and Tess Palmateer

College student athletes face unique, sport-related stressors that may lead to, or exacerbate, mental health (MH) concerns and symptoms. Although the National Collegiate Athletic Association has identified MH screening as a best practice, minimal data exist regarding contemporary screening practices. We explored National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I (DI), Division II (DII), and Division III (DIII) athletic departments’ current MH screening practices (N = 264). Compared with DII/DIII (53%), a greater percentage of Division I (89%) conducted formal MH screening. At DII/DIII institutions, athletic trainers were more likely to both administer and review screeners than any other sports medicine professional; sport psychologists primarily oversaw these tasks at DI schools. DI, compared with DII/DIII, institutions were more likely to have had a student athlete attempt suicide (62% vs. 40%) and participate in inpatient treatment (69% vs. 43%). There is a clear need for the National Collegiate Athletic Association to continue to promote policies that support MH screening and to create mechanisms in which it can monitor institutional involvement.

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Zachary L. Mannes, Erin G. Ferguson, Nicole Ennis, Deborah S. Hasin, and Linda B. Cottler

Over 80% of National Football League (NFL) retirees experience daily pain. Pain acceptance is an important psychological construct implicated in the intensity of chronic pain, though these findings have not been extended to NFL retirees. Therefore, the current study examined the association between pain acceptance and pain intensity among former NFL athletes. NFL retirees (N = 90) recruited from 2018 to 2019 completed questionnaires that assessed pain, substance use, and NFL career information. Multiple linear regression examined the association between current pain acceptance and pain intensity while adjusting for other risk factors of pain. NFL retirees reported average scores of 33.31 (SD = 10.00), and 2.18 (SD = 2.40) on measures of pain acceptance and pain intensity, respectively. After covariate adjustment, greater pain acceptance (β = −0.538, p < .001) was associated with lower pain intensity. These findings can further inform the behavioral and mental health care of retired NFL athletes.

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Ehsan Sinaei, Debra J. Rose, Samira Javadpour, and Amin Kordi Yoosefinejad

Recently, a short form of the Fullerton Advanced Balance (SF-FAB) scale was reported as a good predictor of falls in older adults. However, we found no evidence regarding its reliability in non-American older adults. Therefore, we aimed to analyze the reliability and homogeneity of the SF-FAB scale to measure postural balance in Iranian older adults. Eighty-five community-dwelling older adults (70.75 ± 4.97 years) performed the SF-FAB test on two occasions 1 week apart. In both instances, four raters assessed the performance on the test. The SF-FAB scale (mean total score: 12.46 ± 3.53) revealed acceptable internal consistency (Cronbach’s α = .77), excellent intrarater reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient = .94–.99), and excellent interrater reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient = .92–.99). The overall prediction success rate was 83.5% with correctly classifying 95.6% of nonfallers and 35.3% of fallers. The SF-FAB scale can provide a quick screen of balance status in older adults to trigger referral to clinicians for a more comprehensive assessment.