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Comparison of Two Sets of Accelerometer Cut-Off Points for Calculating Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity in Young Children.

Dylan P. Cliff and Anthony D. Okely

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A School-Based Physical Activity and Motor Development Program for Low-Fit Adolescent Females: The Sport4Fun Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

Jodie Andruschko, Anthony D. Okely, and Phil Pearson

This study examined the feasibility and potential efficacy of a multi-faceted secondary school–based intervention among low-fit adolescent females. The Sport4Fun program was designed to promote physical activity participation, fundamental movement skill proficiency, perceived physical competence, and enjoyment of physical activity in secondary school students. The intervention consisted of three components including two practical components—weekly movement skill activities for 90 min during compulsory school sport and sports-based activities for 60 min after school (non-compulsory) for 6 months—and one theoretical component—three 15-min theory sessions completed during homeroom (or roll call) time per week. The control group participated in their regular school activities. Compared with females in the control group, those in the intervention group showed a greater increase in total weekday accelerometer counts per min (adjusted difference, 77.49; 95% CI, 8.21–132.77; p = .03; Cohen’s d = 1.26). The difference in total fundamental movement skill components mastered favored the intervention group but was not statistically significant (adjusted difference, 1.48; 95% CI, −1.21–4.17; p = .26, Cohen’s d = 0.48). Targeting fundamental movement skills may be a potentially novel and motivating way to promote activity among low-fit adolescent girls; however, challenges in recruitment and implementation warrant further investigation before adopting this approach more broadly.

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Actual and Perceived Physical Competence in Overweight and Nonoverweight Children

Jodie E. Southall, Anthony D. Okely, and Julie R. Steele

This study compared actual and perceived physical competence of overweight and nonoverweight children. Participants were 109 nonoverweight and 33 overweight Grade 5 and 6 children (mean age 10.8 years). Overweight status was determined using age- and gender-specific international body-mass-index cut-off values. Actual competence was assessed using the Test of Gross Motor Development, 2nd ed., and perceived competence was assessed using an expanded version of the Athletic Competence subscale of the Self-Perception Profile for Children (SPPC). Overweight children had significantly lower actual and perceived physical competence. When actual competence was partitioned into locomotor and object-control skills, however, differences only existed for locomotor skills. These findings indicate that low actual and perceived physical competence might be important contributing factors in maintaining childhood obesity. Interventions to improve actual and perceived physical competence in overweight children should provide opportunities to learn and master fundamental movement skills in an environment where parents, teachers, and coaches provide positive and specific feedback, encouragement, and modeling.

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Relationship of Cardiorespiratory Endurance to Fundamental Movement Skill Proficiency among Adolescents

Anthony D. Okely, Michael L. Booth, and John W. Patterson

This study investigated a possible relationship between cardiorespiratory endurance and fundamental movement skill proficiency among adolescents. Locomotor (run and jump) and object-control (catch, throw, kick, and strike) skills and cardiorespiratory endurance, indirectly measured using the Multistage Fitness Test (MFT) or PACER, were assessed in 2,026 boys and girls in Grade 8 (mean age = 13.3 years) and Grade 10 (mean age = 15.3 years), who were part of a randomly selected sample who agreed to participate in the New South Wales Schools Fitness and Physical Activity Survey, 1997. Boys had higher levels of cardiorespiratory endurance and were more competent than girls on 5 out of 6 skills. Grade 10 students were better on all skills and were aerobically fitter than Grade 8 students. All six skills and a skills index were related to the number of laps completed on the MFT. The six skills explained 20% and 26% of the variance in the number of laps completed on the MFT for Grade 8 and Grade 10 girls, respectively, and 12% and 17% for Grade 8 and Grade 10 boys, respectively. This finding can be interpreted as evidence of a relationship between cardiorespiratory endurance and fundamental movement skills among adolescents. Further studies are recommended to determine if improved movement skills in adolescents can promote cardiorespiratory endurance.

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Environmental Influences on Children’s Physical Activity in Early Childhood Education and Care

Karen Tonge, Rachel A. Jones, and Anthony D. Okely

Background: To examine the relationship between attributes of early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings and children’s physical activity and sedentary behavior. Methods: Cross-sectional study involving 490 children aged 2–5 years from 11 ECECs. The ECEC routine, size of the outdoor environment, and time spent in the outdoor environment were calculated for each center. Children’s physical activity and sedentary time were measured using accelerometers. Multivariate linear regressions were used to examine associations of the attributes of ECEC centers with the outcome variables, adjusting for the effects of center clustering and gender. Results: Children in ECECs that offered free routines (where children can move freely between indoor and outdoor environments) had lower levels of sedentary time (28.27 min/h vs 33.15 min/h; P = .001) and spent more time in total physical activity (7.99 min/h vs 6.57 min/h; P = .008) and moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (9.49 min/h vs 7.31 min/h; P = .008). Children in ECECs with an outdoor environment >400 m2 had less sedentary time (28.94 min/h vs 32.42 min/h; P = .012) than those with areas <400 m2. Conclusion: Modifiable practices such as offering a free routine and increasing time spent in outdoor environments could potentially offer an easy and sustainable way for ECEC centers to promote physical activity and reduce sedentary time among children.

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Relationships between Fundamental Movement Skills and Objectively Measured Physical Activity in Preschool Children

Dylan P. Cliff, Anthony D. Okely, Leif M. Smith, and Kim McKeen

Gender differences in cross-sectional relationships between fundamental movement skill (FMS) subdomains (locomotor skills, object-control skills) and physical activity were examined in preschool children. Forty-six 3- to 5-year-olds (25 boys) had their FMS video assessed (Test of Gross Motor Development II) and their physical activity objectively monitored (Actigraph 7164 accelerometers). Among boys, object-control skills were associated with physical activity and explained 16.9% (p = .024) and 13.7% (p = .049) of the variance in percent of time in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and total physical activity, respectively, after controlling for age, SES and z-BMI. Locomotor skills were inversely associated with physical activity among girls, and explained 19.2% (p = .023) of the variance in percent of time in MVPA after controlling for confounders. Gender and FMS subdomain may influence the relationship between FMS and physical activity in preschool children.

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Promoting Fundamental Movement Skill Development and Physical Activity in Early Childhood Settings: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial

Rachel A. Jones, Annaleise Riethmuller, Kylie Hesketh, Jillian Trezise, Marijka Batterham, and Anthony D. Okely

The aim of this study was to assess the feasibility, acceptability and potential efficacy of a physical activity program for preschool children. A 20-week, 2-arm parallel cluster randomized controlled pilot trial was conducted. The intervention comprised structured activities for children and professional development for staff. The control group participated in usual care activities, which included designated inside and outside playtime. Primary outcomes were movement skill development and objectively measured physical activity. At follow-up, compared with children in the control group, children in the intervention group showed greater improvements in movement skill proficiency, with this improvement statically significant for overall movement skill development (adjust diff. = 2.08, 95% CI 0.76, 3.40; Cohen’s d = 0.47) and significantly greater increases in objectively measured physical activity (counts per minute) during the preschool day (adjust diff. = 110.5, 95% CI 33.6, 187.3; Cohen’s d = 0.46). This study demonstrates that a physical activity program implemented by staff within a preschool setting is feasible, acceptable and potentially efficacious.

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The Acute Effects of a “Reduced Sitting Preschool Day” on Executive Function and Musculoskeletal Health in Preschoolers: A Randomized Cross-Over Study

Yvonne G. Ellis, Dylan P. Cliff, Steven J. Howard, and Anthony D. Okely

Purpose: To examine the acute effects of a reduced sitting day on executive function (EF) and musculoskeletal health in preschoolers. Methods: A sample of 29 children (54% boys; 4–5 y) participated in a randomized cross-over trial. Each child completed 2 protocols, which simulate a day at childcare in random order for 2.5 hours; a typical preschool day (50% sitting) and a reduced preschool day (25% sitting) where most sitting activities were replaced with standing activities. Sitting, standing, and stepping time were objectively assessed using an activPAL accelerometer. EF was evaluated using tablet-based EF assessments (inhibition, working memory, and task shifting). Musculoskeletal health was assessed using a handheld dynamometer and goniometer. Results: Compared with the typical preschool day, the reduced sitting day showed no significant differences for EF scores. Effect sizes for inhibition (d = 0.04), working memory (d = 0.02), and shifting (d = 0.11) were all small. For musculoskeletal health, no significant differences were reported after the reduced preschool day. The effect sizes for the hip extension force, hamstring flexibility, gastrocnemius length, and balancing on 1 leg were all small (d = 0.21, d = 0.25, d = 0.28, and d = 0.28). Conclusions: This study suggests that reducing sitting time is unlikely to result in acute changes in EF and musculoskeletal health among preschoolers.

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Acceptability and Potential Efficacy of Single-Sex After-School Activity Programs for Overweight and At-Risk Children: The Wollongong SPORT RCT

Rachel A. Jones, Jacque Kelly, Dylan P. Cliff, Marijka Batterham, and Anthony D. Okely


Single sex after-school physical activity programs show potential to prevent unhealthy weight gain. The aim of this study was to assess the acceptability and potential efficacy of single-sex after-school physical activity programs for overweight and at-risk children from low-income communities.


7-month, 2-arm parallel-group, RCT, conducted at an elementary school in a disadvantaged area in Wollongong, Australia (March-November 2010).


20 boys and 17 girls were randomized to intervention (PA) or active comparison groups (HL). Primary outcomes included implementation, acceptability, percentage body fat and BMI z-score.


The PA programs were acceptable with high implementation and enjoyment rates. At 7 months postintervention girls in the PA group displayed greater changes in percentage body fat (adjust diff. = -1.70, [95% CI -3.25, -0.14]; d = -0.83) and BMI z-score (-0.19 [-0.36, -0.03]; d= -1.00). At 7 months boys in the PA group showed greater changes in waist circumference (-3.87 cm [-7.80, 0.15]; d= -0.90) and waist circumference z-score (-0.33 [-0.64, -0.03]; d= -0.98). For both boys’ and girls’ PA groups, changes in adiposity were not maintained at 12-month follow-up.


Single-sex after-school physical activity programs are acceptable and potentially efficacious in preventing unhealthy weight gain among overweight and at-risk children. However improvements are hard to sustain once programs finish operating.

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Patterns of Activity Energy Expenditure Among Australian Adolescents

Michael L. Booth, Anthony D. Okely, Tien Chey, and Adrian E. Bauman

This study examined the pattern of activity energy expenditure (AEE) among New South Wales (NSW) high school students in relation to age, sex, socioeconomic status (SES), place of residence, cultural background, season, participation in moderate- and vigorous-intensity and in organized and non-organized physical activity.


Cross-sectional survey of a randomly-selected sample (N = 2026). Respondents self-reported their physical activity participation during a usual week in summer and winter.


Boys reported greater AEE than girls and, whereas AEE was greater among grade 10 than grade 8 boys, the reverse was true for girls. Boys reported the same AEE for summer and winter, but girls reported less AEE during winter. Both boys and girls reported spending the same proportion of their AEE in vigorous-intensity (72%) compared with moderate-intensity activity (28%) and in non-organized (60%) compared with organized activity. There was no clear association between urban/rural place of residence and AEE. Although AEE tended to be positively associated with SES among girls, there was no association among boys. Girls from Asian cultural backgrounds reported much lower AEE than girls from other cultural backgrounds.


Patterns of energy expenditure among adolescent boys and girls should be considered in developing interventions to ensure needs are adequately met.