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  • Author: Heather Erwin x
  • Psychology and Behavior in Sport/Exercise x
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Heather Elizabeth Erwin

Background:

Physical activity behavior is an important aspect of overall health, and it is important to understand determinants of physical activity in order for children to accumulate the recommended levels. The ecological-systems theory describes the relationship between individuals and their contexts, suggesting that environment affects physical activity behaviors. Researchers should measure children’s access to physical activity to determine environmental influences. At the time of data collection, however, no reliable questionnaires had been created for measuring children’s access to physical activity.

Methods:

Students from grades 4 and 5 completed a physical activity environmental-access questionnaire on 2 occasions, approximately 7 to 10 days apart.

Results:

The questionnaire appeared appropriate for children age 9 to 12. The lowest reliability was found with items located in the school environment.

Conclusions:

This questionnaire is a suitable tool for examining children’s physical activity supports and inhibitors.

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Melinda J. Ickes, Heather Erwin and Aaron Beighle

Background:

With the rapid increase in obesity rates among youth, efforts to increase physical activity (PA) have become a priority. School-based strategies for PA promotion must be cost-effective, unobtrusive, and linked to improved academic performance. Efforts to maximize recess PA are advocated because of both health and academic benefits. The purpose of this manuscript was to review recess interventions aimed to improve PA among youth, and make recommendations to develop related best practices.

Methods:

An extensive literature search was conducted to include all primary research articles evaluating any recess intervention with PA as an outcome.

Results:

The included 13 interventions represented both settings within the U.S and internationally, among preschools and elementary/primary schools. A variety of strategies were used within the design and implementation of each of the interventions including: added equipment/materials, markings, zones, teacher involvement, active video games, activity of the week, and activity cards. Of the included studies, 95% demonstrated positive outcomes as a result of the recess intervention.

Conclusions:

A number of simple, low-cost strategies can be implemented to maximize the amount of recess time students are allotted. Long-term follow-up studies are warranted for each of the recess strategies identified to be effective.

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Mark Swanson, Nancy E. Schoenberg, Heather Erwin and Rian E. Davis

Background:

Most children in the United States receive far less physical activity (PA) than is optimal. In rural, under resourced areas of Appalachian Kentucky, physical inactivity rates are significantly higher than national levels. We sought to understand children’s perceptions of PA, with the goal of developing culturally appropriate programming to increase PA.

Methods:

During 11 focus groups, we explored perspectives on PA among 63 Appalachian children, ages 8−17. Sessions were tape recorded, transcribed, content analyzed, and subjected to verification procedures.

Results:

Several perspectives on PA emerged among these rural Appalachian youth, including the clear distinction between PA (viewed as positive) and exercise (viewed as negative) and an emphasis on time and resource factors as barriers to adequate PA. Additional PA determinants expressed in the focus groups are similar to those of other populations. We include children’s recommendations for appealing PA programs.

Conclusions:

Appalachian and other rural residents contend with the loss of rural health advantages (due to declines in farming/other occupational and avocational transitions). At the same time, Appalachian residents have not benefitted from urban PA facilitators (sidewalks, recreational facilities, clubs and organized leisure activities). Addressing low PA levels requires extensive community input and creative programming.

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Robert G. Weaver, Aaron Beighle, Heather Erwin, Michelle Whitfield, Michael W. Beets and James W. Hardin

Background: Direct observation protocols may introduce variability in physical activity estimates. Methods: Thirty-five physical education lessons were video recorded and coded using the System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time (SOFIT). A multistep process examined variability in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA%; walking + vigorous/total scans). Initially, per-SOFIT protocol MVPA% (MVPA%SOFIT) estimates were produced for each lesson. Second, true MVPA% (mean MVPA% of all students using all observations, MVPA%true) estimates were calculated. Third, MVPA% (MVPA%perm) was calculated based on all permutations of students and observation order. Fourth, physical education lessons were divided into 2 groups with 5 lessons from each group randomly selected 10,000 times. Group MVPA%perm differences between the 10 selected lessons were compared with the MVPA%true difference between group 1 and group 2. Results: Across all lessons, 10,212,600 permutations were possible (average 291,789 combinations per lesson; range = 73,440–570,024). Across lessons, the average absolute difference between MVPA%true and MVPA%SOFIT estimates was ±4.8% (range = 0.1%–17.5%). Permutations, based on students selected and observation order, indicated that the mean range of MVPA%perm estimates was 41.6% within a lesson (range = 29.8%–55.9%). Differences in MVPA% estimates between the randomly selected groups of lessons varied by 32.0%. Conclusion: MVPA% estimates from focal child observation should be interpreted with caution.

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Heather Erwin, Mark Abel, Aaron Beighle, Melody P. Noland, Brooke Worley and Richard Riggs

Background:

Recess is an important component of a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program, providing approximately 1268 and 914 steps for boys and girls, respectively, within a 15-minute time period. The purpose of this study was to determine the contribution of unstructured recess on children’s school-day physical activity levels and to examine if recess and school-day physical activity levels varied by BMI, gender, and grade level.

Methods:

One-hundred sixty third- to fifth-grade students from 2 elementary schools wore pedometers during 4 recess periods.

Results:

Recess accounted for 17% to 44% of school-day step counts. There was a significant main effect for grade level, but not for BMI or gender, on the percentage of school-day steps accumulated during recess.

Conclusions:

A 15-minute recess makes a valuable contribution to children’s school-day physical activity, especially for the least active children. More research is warranted to determine environmental influences on children’s recess physical activity.

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Darla M. Castelli, Charles H. Hillman, Sarah M. Buck and Heather E. Erwin

The relationship between physical fitness and academic achievement has received much attention owing to the increasing prevalence of children who are overweight and unfit, as well as the inescapable pressure on schools to produce students who meet academic standards. This study examined 259 public school students in third and fifth grades and found that field tests of physical fitness were positively related to academic achievement. Specifically, aerobic capacity was positively associated with achievement, whereas BMI was inversely related. Associations were demonstrated in total academic achievement, mathematics achievement, and reading achievement, thus suggesting that aspects of physical fitness may be globally related to academic performance in preadolescents. The findings are discussed with regards to maximizing school performance and the implications for educational policies.

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Michael William Beets, Charles F. Morgan, Jorge A. Banda, Daniel Bornstein, Won Byun, Jonathan Mitchell, Lance Munselle, Laura Rooney, Aaron Beighle and Heather Erwin

Background:

Pedometer step-frequency thresholds (120 steps·min-1, SPM) corresponding to moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) have been proposed for youth. Pedometers now have internal mechanisms to record time spent at or above a user-specified SPM. If pedometers provide comparable MVPA (P-MVPA) estimates to those from accelerometry, this would have broad application for research and the general public. The purpose of this study was to examine the convergent validity of P-MVPA to accelerometer-MVPA for youth.

Methods:

Youth (N = 149, average 8.6 years, range 5 to 14 years, 60 girls) wore an accelerometer (5-sec epochs) and a pedometer for an average of 5.7 ± 0.8 hours·day-1. The following accelerometer cutpoints were used to compare P-MVPA: Treuth (TR), Mattocks (MT), Evenson (EV), Puyau (PU), and Freedson (FR) child equation. Comparisons between MVPA estimates were performed using Bland-Altman plots and paired t tests.

Results:

Overall, P-MVPA was 24.6 min ± 16.7 vs. TR 25.2 min ± 16.2, MT 18.8 min ± 13.3, EV 36.9 min ± 21.0, PU 22.7 min ± 15.1, and FR 50.4 min ± 25.5. Age-specific comparisons indicated for 10 to 14 year-olds MT, PU, and TR were not significantly different from P-MVPA; for the younger children (5−8 year- olds) P-MVPA consistently underestimated MVPA.

Conclusions:

Pedometer-determined MVPA provided comparable estimates of MVPA for older children (10−14 year-olds). Additional work is required to establish age appropriate SPM thresholds for younger children.