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Mhairi MacDonald, Samantha G. Fawkner, and Ailsa Niven


It is currently not known how much walking should be advocated for good health in adolescent girls. The aim of this study was therefore to recommend health referenced standards for step defined physical activity relating to appropriate health criterion/indicators in a group of adolescent girls.


Two hundred and thirty adolescent girls aged between 12 to 15 years volunteered to take part in the study. Each participant undertook measurements (BMI, waist circumference, % body fat, and blood pressure) to define health status. Activity data were collected by pedometer and used to assess daily step counts and accumulated daily activity time over 7 consecutive days.


Individuals classified as ‘healthy’ did not take significantly more steps·day–1 nor spend more time in moderate intensity activity than individuals classified as at health risk or with poor health profiles.


‘Healthy’ adolescent girls do not walk significantly more in term of steps·day–1 or time spent in activity than girls classified as ‘unhealthy.’ This could suggest that adolescent girls may not walk enough to stratify health and health related outcomes and as a result the data could not be used to inform an appropriate step guideline for this population.

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Mhairi J. MacDonald, Samantha G. Fawkner, and Ailsa G. Niven

Background: In order to promote walking, researchers have sought to identify the required step rate to maintain a health-enhancing walking intensity However, there is limited evidence regarding the stepping rate required to promote moderate-intensity walking in adolescent girls. Purpose: To identify the step rate equivalent to moderate-intensity physical activity (MPA) in adolescent girls and to explore the influence that different anthropometric measures may have on the step rate equating to MPA in this population. Methods: A total of 56 adolescent girls (mean age = 13.8[0.7] y) were recruited to the study. Anthropometric variables and resting metabolic rate were assessed, followed by 3 overground walking trials on a flat surface at approximately 2, 3, and 4 mph, each lasting a minimum of 4 minutes. Oxygen uptake was assessed using a portable gas analyzer and subsequently converted into metabolic equivalents (METs). Step count was assessed by real-time direct observation hand tally. Results: Employing the linear regression between step rate and METs (r 2 = .20, standard error of estimates = 0.003) suggests that 120 steps per minute was representative of an MPA (3 METs) equating to 7200 steps in 60 minutes. Multiple regression and mixed-model regression confirmed weight-related variables and maturity were significant predictors of METs (P < .01). Conclusion: The results suggest that, at population level, a step rate of 120 steps per minute may be advocated to achieve MPA in adolescent girls; although, due to the small sample size used, caution should be applied. At an individual level, other factors, such as age and weight, should be considered.

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Jane McKay, Ailsa G. Niven, David Lavallee, and Alison White

Following the theoretical framework of Lazarus and Folkman (1984), recently adapted to sport (Fletcher, Hanton, & Mellalieu, 2006), 12 elite UK track athletes (M age = 22.7; SD = 2.4 years) participated in semistructured interviews to identify sources of strain. Inductive content analysis identified 11 general dimensions of sources of strain from 664 meaning units, which were subsequently categorized into competitive, organizational, and personal domains. Several sources of strain (e.g., competitive concerns, pressure to perform) were consistent with previous research supporting the suggestion that a core group of stressors may be evident across sports although several sources of strain appeared to be more pertinent to track athletes (e.g., social evaluation and self-presentation concerns) highlighting the need to consider group differences.

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Mhairi J. MacDonald, Samantha G. Fawkner, Ailsa G. Niven, and David Rowe

Background: Currently, it is not known how much walking should be advocated for good health in an adolescent population. Step count recommendations for minimum time in moderate-intensity activity have been translated predominantly from treadmill walking. Purpose: To compare the energy cost of walking on a treadmill with overground walking in adolescent girls. Methods: A total of 26 adolescent girls undertook resting metabolic measurements for individual determination of 1 metabolic equivalent using indirect calorimetry. Energy expenditure was subsequently assessed during treadmill and overground walking at slow, moderate, and fast walking speeds for 4 to 6 minutes. Treadmill step rates were matched overground using a metronome. Results: The energy cost of treadmill walking was found to be significantly greater than and not equivalent to overground walking at 133 steps per minute; (equivalent to the fast walking pace): V˙O2 3.90 (2.78–5.01), P < .001, mean absolute percentage error (MAPE) = 18.18%, and metabolic equivalent 0.77 (0.54–1.00), P < .001, MAPE = 18.16%. The oxygen cost per step (V˙O2 mL·step−1) was significantly greater and not equivalent on the treadmill at 120 and 133 steps per minute: 0.43 (0.12–0.56), P < .05, MAPE = 10.12% versus 1.40 (1.01–1.76), P < .001, MAPE = 17.64%, respectively. Conclusion: The results suggest that there is a difference in energy cost per step of walking on a treadmill and overground at the same step rate. This should be considered when utilizing the treadmill in energy expenditure studies. Studies which aim to provide step recommendations should focus on overground walking where most walking activity is adopted.

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Ailsa G. Niven, Samantha G. Fawkner, Ann-Marie Knowles, and Claire Stephenson

This cross-sectional study examined the relationship between physical self-perceptions (PSPs), maturation, and physical activity and compared the strength of the relationships of biological and chronological age with PSPs in early adolescent girls (N = 208; mean age = 11.83 ± 0.39 years). Participants completed the Physical Activity Questionnaire for Older Children, the Children’s Physical Self-Perception Profile, and the Pubertal Development Scale. Results indicated that PSPs were significantly and moderately correlated with physical activity. There were no differences in physical activity between maturation stages. Girls who were in the early stages of maturation had significantly more positive perceptions of body attractiveness and physical self-worth than girls in the mid stages of maturation. There was no evidence of a relationship between PSPs and chronological age. This study provided further support for the relationship between PSPs and physical activity and the relationship between maturation and aspects of PSPs. In this age group, maturation does not appear to be related to physical activity or the PSPs most strongly influential on physical activity behavior.