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Geneviève N. Olivier, Christopher S. Walter, Serene S. Paul, Leland E. Dibble, and Sydney Y. Schaefer

Motor performance is classically described as improving nonlinearly with practice, demonstrating rapid improvements early in practice with stabilization later, which is commonly modeled by exponential decay functions. However, retrospective analyses of our previously collected data challenge this theoretical model of motor skill acquisition, suggesting that a majority of individual learners actually demonstrate patterns of motor improvement different from this classical model. A convenience sample of young adults, older adults, and people with Parkinson disease trained on the same functional upper-extremity task. When fitting three-parameter exponential decay functions to individual participant data, the authors found that only 13.3% of young adults, 40.9% of older adults, and 66.7% of adults with Parkinson disease demonstrated this “classical” skill acquisition pattern. Thus, the three-parameter exponential decay pattern may not well-represent individuals’ skill acquisition of complex motor tasks; instead, more individualized analysis methods may be warranted for advancing a theoretical understanding of motor skill acquisition.

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Simone J.J.M. Verswijveren, Cormac Powell, Stephanie E. Chappel, Nicola D. Ridgers, Brian P. Carson, Kieran P. Dowd, Ivan J. Perry, Patricia M. Kearney, Janas M. Harrington, and Alan E. Donnelly

Aside from total time spent in physical activity behaviors, how time is accumulated is important for health. This study examined associations between sitting, standing, and stepping bouts, with cardiometabolic health markers in older adults. Participants from the Mitchelstown Cohort Rescreen Study (N = 221) provided cross-sectional data on activity behaviors (assessed via an activPAL3 Micro) and cardiometabolic health. Bouts of ≥10-, ≥30-, and ≥60-min sitting, standing, and stepping were calculated. Linear regression models were fitted to examine the associations between bouts and cardiometabolic health markers. Sitting (≥10, ≥30, and ≥60 min) and standing (≥10 and ≥30 min) bouts were detrimentally associated with body composition measures, lipid markers, and fasting glucose. The effect for time spent in ≥60-min sitting and ≥30-min standing bouts was larger than shorter bouts. Fragmenting sitting with bouts of stepping may be targeted to benefit cardiometabolic health. Further insights for the role of standing need to be elicited.

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Samar Ezzina, Clément Roume, Simon Pla, Hubert Blain, and Didier Delignières

The analysis of stride series revealed a loss of complexity in older people, which correlated with the falling propensity. A recent experiment evidenced an increase of walking complexity in older participants when they walked in close synchrony with a younger companion. Moreover, a prolonged experience of such synchronized walking yielded a persistent restoration of complexity. This result, however, was obtained with a unique healthy partner, and it could be related to a particular partner’s behavior. The authors’ aim was to replicate this important finding using a different healthy partner and to compare the results to those previously obtained. The authors successfully replicated the previous results: synchronization yielded an attraction of participants’ complexity toward that of their partner and a restoration of complexity that persisted in two posttests, 2 and 6 weeks after the end of the training sessions. This study shows that this complexity restoration protocol can be applied successfully with another partner, and allows us to conclude that it can be generalized.

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J.D. DeFreese, Samuel R. Walton, Avinash Chandran, and Zachary Y. Kerr

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in changes to the structure of sport and the experiences of athletes. In this commentary, we consider how these changes, including schedule disruptions and the early termination of careers, have contributed to a reconsideration of how athlete transition should be defined, examined, and intervened upon. We outline our rationale for this proposed reconfiguration, including implications for researchers and practitioners working with athletes during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. For researchers, we recommend updating the transition definition, reconsidering the measurement of salient transition-related variables, and utilizing study designs/methods that best facilitate this work. For practitioners, we recommend considering the dynamic nature of transition within holistic athlete care, building momentum on mental health destigmatization achieved during the pandemic, athlete transition education, and clinician advocacy for transition-related resources for athletes. Ultimately, we hope this work will spark continued innovations in athlete transition research and practice moving forward.

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Claudio R. Nigg, Xanna Burg, Barbara Lohse, and Leslie Cunningham-Sabo

Purpose: This study used different analytic approaches to compare physical activity (PA) metrics from accelerometers (ACC) and a self-report questionnaire in upper elementary youth participating in the Fuel for Fun intervention. Methods: The PA questionnaire and ACC were assessed at baseline/preintervention (fall fourth grade), Follow-up 1/postintervention (spring fourth grade), and Follow-up 2 (fall fifth grade) of 564 fourth grade students from three elementary schools (50% females, 78% White, and 28% overweight or obese). Different analytic approaches identified similarities and differences between the two methods. Results: On average, self-report was higher than ACC for vigorous PA (range = 9–15 min/day), but lower than ACC for moderate PA (range = 24–30 min/day), light PA (range = 30–36 min/day), and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA; range = 9–21 min/day). Spearman’s correlations for vigorous PA (.30, .26, and .32); moderate PA (.12, .13, and .14); and MVPA (.25, .25, and .24) were significant at each time point (all ps ≤ .01), whereas correlations for light PA were not significant (.06, .04, and .07; all ps > .05). In repeated-measures analyses, ACC and questionnaire measures were significantly different from each other across the three time points; however, change difference of the two measures over time was only 5.5 MVPA min/day. Conclusions: The PA questionnaire and ACC validated each other and can be used to assess MVPA in upper elementary school children in a similar population to the current study. However, each assessment method captures unique information, especially for light-intensity PA. Multiple PA measurement methods are recommended to be used in research and application to provide a more comprehensive understanding of children’s activity.

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Jason P. Brandenburg, Iris A. Lesser, Cynthia J. Thomson, and Luisa V. Giles

Background: Regular physical activity and higher cardiorespiratory (CR) fitness enhance immune function, possibly reducing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection severity. The aim was to assess the association between physical activity and self-reported CR fitness on COVID-19 infection characteristics. Methods: Participants formerly testing positive for COVID-19 completed an online questionnaire measuring COVID-19 infection characteristics and complications, self-reported CR fitness level, physical activity, and sociodemographic and health-related characteristics. Self-reported CR fitness was determined as the pace to cover 4.8 km without becoming overly fatigued (with slow walking, brisk walking, jogging, and running corresponding to low, moderate, good, and excellent levels of fitness, respectively). Results: A total of 263 individuals completed the survey. Compared with the lowest level of self-reported CR fitness, the odds of hospitalization significantly decreased by 64% (odds ratio = 0.36; 95% confidence interval, 0.13–0.98; P = .04) in individuals reporting the ability to maintain a brisk walk. In individuals reporting the ability to maintain a jogging pace, the further reduction in hospitalization was not significant (odds ratio = 0.22; 95% confidence interval, 0.05–1.04; P = .05). For COVID-19 symptom severity and number, there were no significant associations with self-reported CR fitness or physical activity levels. Conclusions: For individuals with low self-reported CR fitness, improving CR fitness represents a strategy to reduce the risk of hospitalization from COVID-19.

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Sylvia E. Badon, Esti Iturralde, Linda Nkemere, Nerissa Nance, and Lyndsay A. Avalos

Background: Physical activity (PA) can help reduce depression symptom severity in women with perinatal depression. However, PA is low, and barriers and motivators for PA among women with perinatal depression are not well understood. Methods: An ethnically diverse sample of women with perinatal depression was identified using a universal perinatal depression screening program. The authors conducted 8 focus groups (4 in pregnant women [n = 15] and 4 in postpartum women [n = 20]). Depression symptoms were measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire-8 at recruitment. Focus groups were analyzed using an inductive approach. Results: Pregnant participants were 27 weeks gestation, and postpartum participants were 11.5 months postpartum, on average. Depression symptoms were moderately severe (mean Patient Health Questionnaire-8 score: 16). Women identified practical barriers and motivators for PA common to perinatal women (physical health, parental responsibilities, PA tracking tools, and environmental factors) and described emotional and social factors influencing PA. Motivators included using PA to improve mood, relieve stress, boost self-image, and spend time with others. Bad mood, fear of social judgment, and feeling discouraged made it difficult to be active. Conclusion: PA interventions in women with perinatal depression should include components addressing emotional and social barriers to PA in addition to addressing additional common practical barriers to PA.

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Paul R. Hibbing, Nicholas R. Lamoureux, Charles E. Matthews, and Gregory J. Welk

Physical behavior can be assessed using a range of competing methods. The Free-Living Activity Study for Health (FLASH) is an ongoing study that facilitates the comparison of such methods. The purpose of this report is to describe the FLASH, with a particular emphasis on a subsample of participants who have consented to have their deidentified data released in a shared repository. Participants in the FLASH wear seven physical activity monitors for a 24-hr period and then complete a detailed recall using the Activities Completed Over Time in 24-hr online assessment tool. The participants can optionally agree to be video recorded for 30–60 min, which allows for direct observation as a criterion indicator of their behavior during that period. As of version 0.1.0, the repository includes data from 38 participants, and the sample size will grow as data are collected, processed, and released in future versions. The repository makes it possible to combine sensor data (e.g., from ActiGraph and SenseWear) with minute-by-minute contextual data (from the Activities Completed Over Time in 24-hr recall system), which enables the FLASH to generate benchmark data for a wide range of future research. The repository itself provides an example of how a powerful open-source tool (GitHub) can be used to share data and code in a way that encourages communication and collaboration among a variety of scientists (e.g., algorithm developers and end users). The FLASH data set will provide long-term benefits to researchers interested in advancing the science of physical behavior monitoring.

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S. Maria O’Kane, Ian M. Lahart, Alison M. Gallagher, Angela Carlin, Maria Faulkner, Russell Jago, and Marie H. Murphy

Background: To suppress the transmission of coronavirus, many governments, including that of the island of Ireland, implemented a societal lockdown, which included school closures, limits on social gatherings, and time outdoors. This study aimed to evaluate changes in physical activity (PA), mental health, sleep, and social media use among adolescent girls during lockdown. Methods: 281 female pupils (12–14 y) taking part in the ongoing Walking In Schools study on the island of Ireland self-reported PA, mental health, sleep, and social media use before (September–October 2019) and during lockdown (May–June 2020), via questionnaires. These were supplemented with open-ended structured interviews conducted with 16 girls during lockdown. Results: During the period of lockdown and school closures, pupils tried new forms of PA and undertook PA with family, but there was no significant change in self-reported PA. There was a decline in health-related quality of life and motivation for exercise; however, self-efficacy for walking and happiness with appearance increased. There was no change in sleep quality or social media usage. Conclusions: Despite the many challenges that schools face as they reopen, there is a need to continue to prioritize PA and motivation for exercise to support health and well-being in adolescent girls.

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Yetsa A. Tuakli-Wosornu, Xiang Li, Kimberly E. Ona Ayala, Yinfei Wu, Michael Amick, and David B. Frumberg

It is known that high-performance sprinters with unilateral and bilateral prosthetic lower limbs run at different speeds using different spatiotemporal strategies. Historically, these athletes still competed together in the same races, but 2018 classification rule revisions saw the separation of these two groups. This study sought to compare Paralympic sprint performance between all-comer (i.e., transfemoral and transtibial) unilateral and bilateral amputee sprinters using a large athlete sample. A retrospective analysis of race speed among Paralympic sprinters between 1996 and 2016 was conducted. In total, 584 published race results from 161 sprinters revealed that unilateral and bilateral lower-extremity amputee sprinters had significantly different race speeds in all three race finals (100 m, p value <.001; 200 m, <.001; 400 m, <.001). All-comer bilateral amputee runners ran faster than their unilateral counterparts; performance differences increased with race distance. These data support current classification criteria in amputee sprinting, which may create more equal competitive fields in the future.