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Open access

COVID-19 and Physical Activity: How Can We Build Back Better?

Catherine E. Draper, Karen Milton, and Jasper Schipperijn

Restricted access

A Retrospective Evaluation of a Community-Based Physical Activity Health Promotion Program

Catherine E. Draper, Tracy L. Kolbe-Alexander, and Estelle V. Lambert

Background:

The Community Health Intervention Programmes (CHIPs) is a physical activity-based health promotion program operating in disadvantaged communities in the Western Cape, South Africa with primary school learners, adults and senior adults. Program growth, anecdotal evidence and experience of those involved suggest the program has been positively received by communities. The aim of this study was to conduct a qualitative, retrospective process evaluation concerning both factors associated with successful implementation of the programs, and implementation challenges.

Methods:

‘Success’ was defined in consultation with CHIPs staff and stakeholders. Data were gathered through naturalistic observation, structured interviews and focus groups (n = 104), and open-ended questionnaires (n = 81). The sample included CHIPs staff and stakeholders, program members and leaders.

Results:

Factors contributing to the program’s success include: focus on combining social development and exercise science, community development model, scientifically sound program content, appropriate activities, intrapersonal and interpersonal factors, program leadership, encouraging staff, and various contextual factors.

Conclusions:

The findings confirm that CHIPs presents a model of sustainable implementation of physical activity in disadvantaged communities, and that it positively impacts the quality of life, perceptions of the role of physical activity in health, and personal responsibility for health of those involved in its programs.

Restricted access

The (Possibly Negative) Effects of Physical Activity on Executive Functions: Implications of the Changing Metabolic Costs of Brain Development

Steven J. Howard, Caylee J. Cook, Rihlat Said-Mohamed, Shane A. Norris, and Catherine E. Draper

Background:

An area of growth in physical activity research has involved investigating effects of physical activity on children’s executive functions. Many of these efforts seek to increase the energy expenditure of young children as a healthy and low-cost way to affect physical, health, and cognitive outcomes.

Methods:

We review theory and research from neuroscience and evolutionary biology, which suggest that interventions seeking to increase the energy expenditure of young children must also consider the energetic trade-offs that occur to accommodate changing metabolic costs of brain development.

Results:

According to Life History Theory, and supported by recent evidence, the high relative energy-cost of early brain development requires that other energy-demanding functions of development (ie, physical growth, activity) be curtailed. This is important for interventions seeking to dramatically increase the energy expenditure of young children who have little excess energy available, with potentially negative cognitive consequences. Less energy-demanding physical activities, in contrast, may yield psychosocial and cognitive benefits while not overburdening an underweight child’s already scarce energy supply.

Conclusions:

While further research is required to establish the extent to which increases in energy-demanding physical activities may compromise or displace energy available for brain development, we argue that action cannot await these findings.

Free access

Future Directions for Movement Behavior Research in the Early Years

Valerie Carson, Catherine E. Draper, Anthony Okely, John J. Reilly, and Mark S. Tremblay

Open access

Perceptions of the South African 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Birth to 5 Years: A Qualitative Study

Catherine E. Draper, Takana M. Silubonde, Gudani Mukoma, and Esther M.F. van Sluijs

Background: South Africa launched 24-hour movement guidelines for birth to 5 years in 2018. Perceptions of these guidelines were assessed as part of the dissemination process with community-based organizations in 2019. Methods: Fifteen dissemination workshops were held with community-based organization representatives and a range of stakeholders. Discussions were held with workshop attendees (n = 281) to obtain qualitative feedback on the guidelines and workshop. Six follow-up focus groups (n = 28) were conducted to obtain additional feedback on the guidelines and their dissemination. Discussions and focus groups were thematically analyzed. Results: Participants recognized the importance of the guidelines for the health and development of young South African children. Participants’ perceptions of the guidelines were consistently positive. The participants acknowledged the alignment of the guidelines with other South African programs and initiatives, and that they addressed gaps. Screen time and sleep were identified as the behaviors needing particular attention among young South African children. The negative impact of COVID-19 on young children’s movement behaviors was acknowledged, especially regarding screen time. Conclusion: These findings provide evidence of stakeholders’ positive perceptions of the South African guidelines and support the dissemination and implementation of these guidelines for the promotion of early childhood health and development in South Africa.

Open access

Results From South Africa’s 2016 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth

Monika Uys, Susan Bassett, Catherine E. Draper, Lisa Micklesfield, Andries Monyeki, Anniza de Villiers, Estelle V. Lambert, and the HAKSA 2016 Writing Group

Background:

We present results of the 2016 Healthy Active Kids South Africa (HAKSA) Report Card on the current status of physical activity (PA) and nutrition in South African youth. The context in which we interpret the findings is that participation in PA is a fundamental human right, along with the right to “attainment of the highest standard of health.”

Methods:

The HAKSA 2016 Writing Group was comprised of 33 authorities in physical education, exercise science, nutrition, public health, and journalism. The search strategy was based on peer-reviewed manuscripts, dissertations, and ‘gray’ literature. The core PA indicators are Overall Physical Activity Level; Organized Sport Participation; Active and Outdoor Play; Active Transportation; Sedentary Behaviors; Family and Peer Influences; School; Community and the Built Environment; and National Government Policy, Strategies, and Investment. In addition, we reported on Physical Fitness and Motor Proficiency separately. We also reported on nutrition indicators including Overweight and Under-nutrition along with certain key behaviors such as Fruit and Vegetable Intake, and policies and programs including School Nutrition Programs and Tuck Shops. Data were extracted and grades assigned after consensus was reached. Grades were assigned to each indicator ranging from an A, succeeding with a large majority of children and youth (81% to 100%); B, succeeding with well over half of children and youth (61% to 80%); C, succeeding with about half of children and youth (41% to 60%); D, succeeding with less than half but some children and youth (21% to 40%); and F, succeeding with very few children and youth (0% to 20%); INC is inconclusive.

Results:

Overall PA levels received a C grade, as we are succeeding with more than 50% of children meeting recommendations. Organized Sports Participation also received a C, and Government Policies remain promising, receiving a B. Screen time and sedentary behavior were a major concern. Under- and over-weight were highlighted and, as overweight is on the rise, received a D grade.

Conclusions:

In particular, issues of food security, obesogenic environments, and access to activity-supportive environments should guide social mobilization downstream and policy upstream. There is an urgent need for practice-based evidence based on evaluation of existing, scaled up interventions.

Free access

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.