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Active Students Are Healthier and Happier Than Their Inactive Peers: The Results of a Large Representative Cross-Sectional Study of University Students in Ireland

Marie H. Murphy, Angela Carlin, Catherine Woods, Alan Nevill, Ciaran MacDonncha, Kyle Ferguson, and Niamh Murphy

Background: Time spent in university represents a period of transition and may be an appropriate time to promote physical activity among young adults. The aim of this study was to assess participation of university students in sport and physical activity in Ireland and to explore the association between physical activity and perceptions of overall health, mental health, and happiness. Methods: The Student Activity and Sport Study Ireland was a cross-sectional online survey among a representative sample (n = 8122) of university students in Ireland. Binary logistic regressions were performed to examine associations between self-reported physical activity and gender (predictor variables) and individual perceptions of overall health, mental health, and happiness (binary outcomes). Results: Only 64.3% of respondents met the recommended level of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week with males significantly more active than females (72.1% vs 57.8% meeting guidelines). Those meeting physical activity guidelines were more likely to report greater overall health and higher mental health and happiness scores compared with their inactive peers. Conclusions: Active students enjoy better health (overall and mental) and are happier than their inactive peers. This provides a clear rationale for providing students with opportunities to be active at university. The data provide a baseline to monitor changes in physical activity patterns.

Open access

“Getting Ireland Active”—Application of a Systems Approach to Increase Physical Activity in Ireland Using the GAPPA Framework

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.

Open access

Global Matrix 4.0 Physical Activity Report Card Grades for Children and Adolescents: Results and Analyses From 57 Countries

Salomé Aubert, Joel D. Barnes, Iryna Demchenko, Myranda Hawthorne, Chalchisa Abdeta, Patrick Abi Nader, José Carmelo Adsuar Sala, Nicolas Aguilar-Farias, Susana Aznar, Peter Bakalár, Jasmin Bhawra, Javier Brazo-Sayavera, Mikel Bringas, Jonathan Y. Cagas, Angela Carlin, Chen-Kang Chang, Bozhi Chen, Lars Breum Christiansen, Candice Jo-Anne Christie, Gabriela Fernanda De Roia, Christine Delisle Nyström, Yolanda Demetriou, Visnja Djordjic, Arunas Emeljanovas, Liri Findling Endy, Aleš Gába, Karla I. Galaviz, Silvia A. González, Kylie D. Hesketh, Wendy Yajun Huang, Omphile Hubona, Justin Y. Jeon, Danijel Jurakić, Jaak Jürimäe, Tarun Reddy Katapally, Piyawat Katewongsa, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, Yeon-Soo Kim, Estelle Victoria Lambert, Eun-Young Lee, Sharon Levi, Pablo Lobo, Marie Löf, Tom Loney, José Francisco López-Gil, Juan López-Taylor, Evelin Mäestu, Agus Mahendra, Daga Makaza, Marla Frances T. Mallari, Taru Manyanga, Bojan Masanovic, Shawnda A. Morrison, Jorge Mota, Falk Müller-Riemenschneider, Laura Muñoz Bermejo, Marie H. Murphy, Rowena Naidoo, Phuong Nguyen, Susan Paudel, Željko Pedišić, Jorge Pérez-Gómez, John J. Reilly, Anne Kerstin Reimers, Amie B. Richards, Diego Augusto Santos Silva, Pairoj Saonuam, Olga L. Sarmiento, Vedrana Sember, Mohd Razif Shahril, Melody Smith, Martyn Standage, Gareth Stratton, Narayan Subedi, Tuija H. Tammelin, Chiaki Tanaka, Riki Tesler, David Thivel, Dawn Mahube Tladi, Lenka Tlučáková, Leigh M. Vanderloo, Alun Williams, Stephen Heung Sang Wong, Ching-Lin Wu, Paweł Zembura, and Mark S. Tremblay

Background: The Global Matrix 4.0 on physical activity (PA) for children and adolescents was developed to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the global variation in children’s and adolescents’ (5–17 y) PA, related measures, and key sources of influence. The objectives of this article were (1) to summarize the findings from the Global Matrix 4.0 Report Cards, (2) to compare indicators across countries, and (3) to explore trends related to the Human Development Index and geo-cultural regions. Methods: A total of 57 Report Card teams followed a harmonized process to grade the 10 common PA indicators. An online survey was conducted to collect Report Card Leaders’ top 3 priorities for each PA indicator and their opinions on how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted child and adolescent PA indicators in their country. Results: Overall Physical Activity was the indicator with the lowest global average grade (D), while School and Community and Environment were the indicators with the highest global average grade (C+). An overview of the global situation in terms of surveillance and prevalence is provided for all 10 common PA indicators, followed by priorities and examples to support the development of strategies and policies internationally. Conclusions: The Global Matrix 4.0 represents the largest compilation of children’s and adolescents’ PA indicators to date. While variation in data sources informing the grades across countries was observed, this initiative highlighted low PA levels in children and adolescents globally. Measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, local/international conflicts, climate change, and economic change threaten to worsen this situation.

Open access

Status and Trends of Physical Activity Surveillance, Policy, and Research in 164 Countries: Findings From the Global Observatory for Physical Activity—GoPA! 2015 and 2020 Surveys

Andrea Ramírez Varela, Pedro C. Hallal, Juliana Mejía Grueso, Željko Pedišić, Deborah Salvo, Anita Nguyen, Bojana Klepac, Adrian Bauman, Katja Siefken, Erica Hinckson, Adewale L. Oyeyemi, Justin Richards, Elena Daniela Salih Khidir, Shigeru Inoue, Shiho Amagasa, Alejandra Jauregui, Marcelo Cozzensa da Silva, I-Min Lee, Melody Ding, Harold W. Kohl III, Ulf Ekelund, Gregory W. Heath, Kenneth E. Powell, Charlie Foster, Aamir Raoof Memon, Abdoulaye Doumbia, Abdul Roof Rather, Abdur Razzaque, Adama Diouf, Adriano Akira Hino, Albertino Damasceno, Alem Deksisa Abebe, Alex Antonio Florindo, Alice Mannocci, Altyn Aringazina, Andrea Backović Juričan, Andrea Poffet, Andrew Decelis, Angela Carlin, Angelica Enescu, Angélica María Ochoa Avilés, Anna Kontsevaya, Annamaria Somhegyi, Anne Vuillemin, Asmaa El Hamdouchi, Asse Amangoua Théodore, Bojan Masanovic, Brigid M. Lynch, Catalina Medina, Cecilia del Campo, Chalchisa Abdeta, Changa Moreways, Chathuranga Ranasinghe, Christina Howitt, Christine Cameron, Danijel Jurakić, David Martinez-Gomez, Dawn Tladi, Debrework Tesfaye Diro, Deepti Adlakha, Dušan Mitić, Duško Bjelica, Elżbieta Biernat, Enock M. Chisati, Estelle Victoria Lambert, Ester Cerin, Eun-Young Lee, Eva-Maria Riso, Felicia Cañete Villalba, Felix Assah, Franjo Lovrić, Gerardo A. Araya-Vargas, Giuseppe La Torre, Gloria Isabel Niño Cruz, Gul Baltaci, Haleama Al Sabbah, Hanna Nalecz, Hilde Liisa Nashandi, Hyuntae Park, Inés Revuelta-Sánchez, Jackline Jema Nusurupia, Jaime Leppe Zamora, Jaroslava Kopcakova, Javier Brazo-Sayavera, Jean-Michel Oppert, Jinlei Nie, John C. Spence, John Stewart Bradley, Jorge Mota, Josef Mitáš, Junshi Chen, Kamilah S Hylton, Karel Fromel, Karen Milton, Katja Borodulin, Keita Amadou Moustapha, Kevin Martinez-Folgar, Lara Nasreddine, Lars Breum Christiansen, Laurent Malisoux, Leapetswe Malete, Lorelie C. Grepo-Jalao, Luciana Zaranza Monteiro, Lyutha K. Al Subhi, Maja Dakskobler, Majed Alnaji, Margarita Claramunt Garro, Maria Hagströmer, Marie H. Murphy, Matthew  Mclaughlin, Mercedes Rivera-Morales, Mickey Scheinowitz, Mimoza Shkodra, Monika Piątkowska, Moushumi Chaudhury, Naif Ziyad Alrashdi, Nanette Mutrie, Niamh Murphy, Norhayati Haji Ahmad, Nour A. Obeidat, Nubia Yaneth Ruiz Gómez, Nucharapon Liangruenrom, Oscar Díaz Arnesto, Oscar Flores-Flores, Oscar Incarbone, Oyun Chimeddamba, Pascal Bovet, Pedro Magalhães, Pekka Jousilahti, Piyawat Katewongsa, Rafael Alexander Leandro Gómez, Rawan Awni Shihab, Reginald Ocansey, Réka Veress, Richard Marine, Rolando Carrizales-Ramos, Saad Younis Saeed, Said El-Ashker, Samuel Green, Sandra Kasoma, Santiago Beretervide, Se-Sergio Baldew, Selby Nichols, Selina Khoo, Seyed Ali Hosseini, Shifalika Goenka, Shima Gholamalishahi, Soewarta Kosen, Sofie Compernolle, Stefan Paul Enescu, Stevo Popovic, Susan Paudel, Susana Andrade, Sylvia Titze, Tamu Davidson, Theogene Dusingizimana, Thomas E. Dorner, Tracy L. Kolbe-Alexander, Tran Thanh Huong, Vanphanom Sychareun, Vera Jarevska-Simovska, Viliami Kulikefu Puloka, Vincent Onywera, Wanda Wendel-Vos, Yannis Dionyssiotis, and Michael Pratt

Background: Physical activity (PA) surveillance, policy, and research efforts need to be periodically appraised to gain insight into national and global capacities for PA promotion. The aim of this paper was to assess the status and trends in PA surveillance, policy, and research in 164 countries. Methods: We used data from the Global Observatory for Physical Activity (GoPA!) 2015 and 2020 surveys. Comprehensive searches were performed for each country to determine the level of development of their PA surveillance, policy, and research, and the findings were verified by the GoPA! Country Contacts. Trends were analyzed based on the data available for both survey years. Results: The global 5-year progress in all 3 indicators was modest, with most countries either improving or staying at the same level. PA surveillance, policy, and research improved or remained at a high level in 48.1%, 40.6%, and 42.1% of the countries, respectively. PA surveillance, policy, and research scores decreased or remained at a low level in 8.3%, 15.8%, and 28.6% of the countries, respectively. The highest capacity for PA promotion was found in Europe, the lowest in Africa and low- and lower-middle-income countries. Although a large percentage of the world’s population benefit from at least some PA policy, surveillance, and research efforts in their countries, 49.6 million people are without PA surveillance, 629.4 million people are without PA policy, and 108.7 million live in countries without any PA research output. A total of 6.3 billion people or 88.2% of the world’s population live in countries where PA promotion capacity should be significantly improved. Conclusion: Despite PA is essential for health, there are large inequalities between countries and world regions in their capacity to promote PA. Coordinated efforts are needed to reduce the inequalities and improve the global capacity for PA promotion.