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“I Can Do It”: Perceived Competence of Parents of Autistic Children After Participating in a Physical Activity Intervention

Luis Columna, Justin A. Haegele, Ashlyn Barry, and Laura Prieto

Background: Autistic children can benefit from physical activity (PA) in a variety of ways. However, autistic children tend not to meet PA recommendations and, consequently, may not experience the associated benefits. Parental PA support can facilitate PA participation among autistic children, but parents of autistic children may lack the skills to help their child engage in PA. Few studies, to date, have examined the outcomes of parent-mediated PA interventions for autistic children. The purpose of this study was to explore parents’ perceived behavioral control (PBC) to support their autistic children in PA after their participation in a PA intervention. Methods: The theory of planned behavior served as the framework for this descriptive–qualitative investigation. Fifteen parents (each with 1 autistic child in the intervention) participated in semistructured interviews (3 wk after the intervention), which were transcribed and then analyzed using thematic line-by-line analysis. Results: Three themes characterized the changes to parents’ PBC after completing the PA intervention. Those themes were: (1) I learned by son! (2) You are my coach! and (3) I can do it! Conclusions: The results showed that by participating in a parent-mediated PA intervention, parents experienced improved confidence and awareness of their child’s abilities, thus enhancing their PBC. Future research is needed to examine how these improvements in PBC may influence the actual PA behaviors of autistic children.

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Associations Between Changes in 24-Hour Movement Behaviors in Children and Adolescents During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Systematic Review and Mediation-Based Meta-Analysis

Ross D. Neville, William G. Hopkins, Brae Anne McArthur, Catherine E. Draper, and Sheri Madigan

Background: Although 24-hour movement behaviors are known to be interconnected, limited knowledge exists about whether change in one behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic (eg, increased screen time) was associated with change in another (eg, reduced physical activity or sleep). This review estimates mediational associations between changes in children’s physical activity, screen time, and sleep during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: We included studies published between January 1, 2020 and June 27, 2022, in the PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, SPORTDiscus, and Web of Science databases. Summary data were extracted from included studies and analyzed with random-effects meta-regression. Results: This review included 26 studies representing 18,959 children across 18 mid-high-income countries (53% male; mean age, 11.5 [2.9] y). There was very good evidence of decreased total daily physical activity (factor change, 0.62; 90% CI, 0.47–0.81) and strong evidence of increased screen time (1.56; 90% CI, 1.38–1.77). There was very good evidence of decreased moderate to vigorous physical activity (0.75; 90% CI, 0.62–0.90) and weak evidence of increased sleep (1.02; 90% CI, 1.00–1.04). Mediational analysis revealed strong evidence that most of the reduction in total daily physical activity from before, to during, the pandemic was associated with increased screen time (0.53; 90% CI, 0.42–0.67). We observed no further mediational associations. Conclusion: Increased reliance on and use of screen-based devices during the COVID-19 pandemic can be linked with reduced child and adolescent physical activity. This finding links COVID-related restrictions to potential displacement effects within child and adolescent 24-hour movement behavior.

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Physical Literacy in the Context of Climate Change: Is There a Need for Further Refinement of the Concept?

Johannes Carl, Karim Abu-Omar, Paquito Bernard, Julia Lohmann, Peta White, Jacqui Peters, Shannon Sahlqvist, Jiani Ma, Michael Duncan, and Lisa M. Barnett

The concept of physical literacy (PL) has witnessed enormous popularity in recent years and has undergone substantial theoretical evolvement during the last 2 decades. However, the research field pertaining to PL has not yet initiated discussions around the challenges of climate change and the alignment with conceptualizations of planetary health. Therefore, we argue that the consideration of an “ecological domain” for individual physical activity, in the form of ecological awareness, would further evolve the concept. We illustrate how to potentially integrate adjustments within the most frequent PL definitions of the field (eg, those in Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, the United States, or by the International Physical Literacy Association) without questioning the entire integrity of these elaborate conceptualizations. An ecological domain of PL would not only interact with the postulated physical, cognitive, psychological/affective, and social domains of PL but also have important implications for the (re)design of interventions and practices in physical activity contexts. We call the scientific community, both on national and international scales, to intensify the discussions and initiate a research agenda involving an “ecological domain” of PL.

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Correlates of Active School Transportation During the COVID-19 Pandemic Among Canadian 7- to 12-Year-Olds: A National Study

Richard Larouche, Mathieu Bélanger, Mariana Brussoni, Guy Faulkner, Katie Gunnell, and Mark S. Tremblay

Background: Active school transportation (AST) is an important source of physical activity for children and a potentially important climate change mitigation strategy. However, few studies have examined factors associated with AST in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: We used baseline data from a longitudinal survey to investigate correlates of AST during the second wave of COVID-19 (December 2020). We collected survey data from 2291 parents of 7- to 12-year-olds across Canada and linked this information with data on neighborhood walkability and weather from national databases. We assessed potential correlates representing multiple levels of influence of the social–ecological model. We used gender-stratified binary logistic regression models to determine the correlates of children’s travel mode to/from school (dichotomized as active vs motorized), while controlling for household income. We examined the correlates of travel mode for both the morning and afternoon trips. Results: Consistent correlates of AST among Canadian children during the COVID-19 pandemic included greater independent mobility, warmer outdoor temperature, having a parent who actively commuted to work or school, living in a household owning fewer vehicles, and living in a more walkable neighborhood. These findings were largely consistent between boys and girls and between morning and afternoon school trips. Conclusions: Policymakers, urban planners, and public health workers aiming to promote AST should focus on these correlates while ensuring that neighborhoods are safe for children. Future research should monitor the prevalence and correlates of AST as COVID-19 restrictions are removed.

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Volume 21 (2024): Issue 1 (Jan 2024)

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Changes in Perceptions of the Near-Home Walking Environment Among US Adults—2015 and 2020 National Health Interview Survey

Graycie W. Soto, Geoffrey P. Whitfield, Akimi Smith, David Berrigan, and Janet E. Fulton

Background: The built environments in which we work, live, and play can influence physical activity behaviors, and perceptions of these environments are associated with walking behavior. This study’s objective is to compare national-level data on perceptions of the near-home walking environment from the 2015 and 2020 National Health Interview Survey. Methods: Adults in 2015 (n = 30,811) and 2020 (n = 29,636) reported perceptions of walkable supports (roads, sidewalks, paths, or trails; sidewalks on most streets), destinations (shops, stores, or markets; bus or transit stops; movies, libraries, or churches; places that help you relax, clear your mind, and reduce stress), and barriers to walking (traffic; crime; animals). Age-adjusted prevalence estimates, prevalence differences, and 95% confidence intervals were calculated overall and by demographic characteristics. Results: The reported prevalence of roads, sidewalks, paths, or trails for walking increased overall (85.3% in 2015 to 88.0% in 2020) and for many subgroups. Perceived places to walk to for relaxation, to clear your mind, and to reduce stress increased overall (72.1% in 2015 to 77.1% in 2020) and for all subgroups. Perceptions of crime as a barrier to walking decreased overall (12.5% in 2015 to 11.2% in 2020) and for some subgroups. From 2015 to 2020, the proportion of adults perceiving roads, sidewalks, paths, or trails; places to relax; and crime as a barrier to walking improved. Conclusions: Continuing to monitor perceptions of the walking environment could contribute to progress toward national walking and walkability goals in the United States.

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Assessing Support for Policy Actions With Co-Benefits for Climate Change and Physical Activity in Canada

Matthew J. Fagan, Leigh M. Vanderloo, Ananya Banerjee, Leah J. Ferguson, Eun-Young Lee, Norman O’Reilly, Ryan E. Rhodes, John C. Spence, Mark S. Tremblay, and Guy Faulkner

Background: Calls to action addressing the interconnections between physical (in)activity and the climate crisis are increasing. The current study aimed to investigate public support for policy actions that potentially have co-benefits for physical activity promotion and climate change mitigation. Methods: In 2023, a survey through the Angus Reid Forum was completed by 2507 adults living in Canada. Binary logistic regressions were conducted. Separate models were created to reflect support or opposition to the 8 included policy items. Several covariates were included in the models including age, gender, political orientation, physical activity levels, income, urbanicity climate anxiety, and attitudes surrounding physical activity and climate change. The data were weighted to reflect the gender, age, and regional composition of the country. Results: Most individuals living in Canada strongly or moderately supported all actions (ranging from 71% to 85%). Meeting the physical activity guidelines, higher self-reported income, and scoring high on personal experience of climate change were associated with higher odds of supporting the policy actions related to climate actions. Conclusions: Most adults living in Canada support policies that align with the recommended policy actions related to physical activity and climate change. National campaigns enhancing awareness and understanding of the bidirectional relationship between physical activity and climate change are warranted, and these should consider the consistent demographic differences (eg, gender, age, and political orientation) seen in public support for physical activity-related policies.

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Factors That Influence Meeting the Recommended Weekly Physical Activity Target Among Older People With Physical Multimorbidity: Evidence From 6 Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Lee Smith, Dong Keon Yon, Laurie Butler, Karel Kostev, Carol Brayne, Yvonne Barnett, Benjamin R. Underwood, Jae Il Shin, Masoud Rahmati, Sharon A.S. Neufeld, Anya Ragnhildstveit, Guillermo F. López Sánchez, and Ai Koyanagi

Background: There is a scarcity of studies on the association between physical multimorbidity and lower levels of physical activity among older adults from low- and middle-income countries, while the potential mediating variables in this association are largely unknown. Methods: Cross-sectional, community-based, nationally representative data from the World Health Organization Study on global AGEing and adult health were analyzed. Data on 11 chronic physical conditions were collected. Scoring <150 minutes of moderate- to high-intensity physical activity per week was considered low physical activity. Multivariable logistic regression and mediation analysis were done to assess associations and quality of life measures which might influence these associations. Results: Data on 14,585 people aged ≥65 years were analyzed (mean [SD] age 72.6 (11.5) y, maximum age 114 y; 55.0% women). After adjustment for potential confounders, compared with no chronic conditions, ≥3 conditions were associated with a significant 1.59 to 2.42 times higher odds for low physical activity. Finally, mobility mediated the largest proportion of the association between ≥3 chronic physical conditions and low physical activity (mediated percentage 50.7%), followed by activities of daily living disability (30.7%), cognition (24.0%), affect (23.6%), and pain/discomfort (22.0%). Conclusions: Physical multimorbidity was associated with higher odds for low physical activity among older adults residing in low- and middle-income countries. Mobility, disability, cognition, affect, and pain/discomfort explained the largest proportion of this association. Given the universal benefits of regular and sustained participation in physical activity, it would be prudent to implement interventions among older people with physical multimorbidity to increase levels of physical activity. Future studies should assess the impact of addressing the identified potential mediators among people with multimorbidity on physical activity levels.

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Sport Participation for Academic Success: Evidence From the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children

Katherine B. Owen, Bridget C. Foley, Ben J. Smith, Karine E. Manera, Lucy Corbett, Michelle Lim, Philayrath Phongsavan, Pamela Qualter, Ding Ding, and Philip J. Clare

Background: We aimed to identify long-term patterns of sport participation (overall, team, and individual sport) from childhood into adolescence, and to examine the association between these patterns and academic outcomes. Methods: This cohort study used data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children in wave 3 (4–5 y) to wave 9 (20–21 y). The participants were a nationally representative sample of 4241 children. We conducted latent class analyses to identify sport participation trajectories and assessed the association between these trajectories and academic outcomes. Results: Continued sport participation was associated with lower odds of being absent from school (OR = 0.44; 95% confidence intervals [CIs], 0.26 to 0.74), better performance on attention (B = −0.010; 95% CIs, −0.019 to −0.002) and working memory (B = −0.013; 95% CIs, −0.023 to −0.003), higher numeracy (B = 20.21; 95% CIs, 14.56 to 25.86) and literacy scores (B = 9.42; 95% CIs, 2.82 to 16.02), higher end of school academic performance (B = 3.28; 95% CIs, 1.47 to 5.09), and higher odds of studying at university (OR = 1.78; 95% CIs, 1.32 to 2.40). Team sport participation was associated with reduced absenteeism, better performance on attention and working memory, and being awarded the Higher School Certificate. Whereas individual sport participation was associated with higher literacy scores and end of school academic performance. Conclusions: Team and individual sport participation both benefit academic outcomes, but differently. Given the decline in sport participation during adolescence, these findings highlight the need to develop educational policies to establish an environment that promotes sport participation, which in turn could improve academic outcomes.

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Patterns and Correlates of Participation in a Weekly Mass Participation Physical Activity Event, parkrun, in Australia, 2011–2020

Anne C. Grunseit, Bo-Huei Huang, Dafna Merom, Adrian Bauman, Leonie Cranney, and Kris Rogers

Background: Studying effective interventions already operating at scale is critical to improving physical activity intervention research translation. The free, weekly, timed 5-km run or walk parkrun represents a unique opportunity to examine successful organic dissemination. We conducted an ecological analysis to identify patterns of growth in Australian parkrun participation and their correlates from 2011 to 2020. Method: Outcome variables were (1) weekly counts of walkers/runners and (2) monthly number of new parkrun registrants. We used latent class analysis to characterize growth trajectories followed by logistic regression on class membership. Covariates included parkrun course characteristics (eg, surface type and route), site-level aggregate participant profile (eg, proportion women and mean age), and surrounding area characteristics (eg, population density and physical activity norm). Results: Three hundred and sixty-three parkruns were included (n = 8,388,695 participation instances). Sixty-nine percent followed a low-growth and 31% a high-growth participation pattern. High growth was associated with greater participation by women, concrete/bitumen surface type, lower area socioeconomic status, and greater volunteer heterogeneity. Odds of being in the slow-growth class were higher if the course contained >1 km of repetition, higher average age of participants, better average parkrun performance, and higher running group membership. Two patterns of new registration were identified: high start followed by steep decline; and low start, slow decline with similar correlates to participation. Conclusions: Parkruns with a less competitive social milieu may have more rapid dissemination. As a free and regular event, parkruns in low socioeconomic areas have the potential to improve the activity levels of those with fewer resources.