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Arto Gråstén, Anthony Watt, Jarmo Liukkonen, and Timo Jaakkola

Background:

The study examined the effects of school-based program on students’ self-reported moderate to vigorous physical activity and physical competence, and associated links to gender, grade, body mass index, and physical education assessments.

Methods:

Participants were 240 middle school students (143 intervention, 97 control) from 3 small cities in North-East Finland. The intervention group received task-involving climate support in physical education classes and additional physical activities during school days across 1 year.

Results:

The intervention group’s physical competence increased, whereas the control group’s competence remained stable across the period. However, physical activity levels were stable in both groups. The findings also showed that body mass index was negatively associated with physical competence and activity in the intervention group at the follow-up measure. Physical education assessments were positively related with only the baseline scores of physical competence in the intervention group. In contrast, the assessments had positive relationships with physical competence and activity of control group students.

Conclusions:

The present program was an effective protocol to increase student’s perceptions of physical competence. Since the quantity of school physical education including recess activities cannot be dramatically increased, positive learning experiences should be provided, and thus, support perceptions of physical competence.

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Sami Yli-Piipari, Arto Gråsten, Mikko Huhtiniemi, Kasper Salin, Sanni Seppälä, Harto Hakonen, and Timo Jaakkola

This study examined the predictive strength of selected physical education (PE)-centered physical literacy indicators on elementary school students’ accelerometer-measured moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity (PA). The study was a cross-sectional study with a sample of 450 Finnish children (M = 11.26 [0.32]; n females = 194; n males = 256). Data on a set of predictor variables (motor competence, in-class PE moderate- to vigorous-intensity PA [MVPA], health-related fitness, and PE motivation and enjoyment) and total MVPA as a single outcome variable were collected. The entire model explained almost 30% of MVPA (R 2 adj = .298). Cardiorespiratory endurance (β = 0.42, 95% confidence interval [0.22, 0.62], p < .001) and MVPA in PE (β = 0.27, 95% confidence interval [0.09, 0.44], p = .004) were statistically significant predictors of MVPA. It can be concluded that, of all included variables, cardiorespiratory endurance and MVPA in PE were the most important factors contributing to healthy levels of total MVPA in childhood.

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Jarmo Liukkonen, Timo Jaakkola, Sami Kokko, Arto Gråstén, Sami Yli-Piipari, Pasi Koski, Jorma Tynjälä, Anne Soini, Timo Ståhl, and Tuija Tammelin

The Finnish 2014 Report Card on Physical Activity (PA) for Children and Youth is the first assessment of Finland’s efforts in promoting and facilitating PA opportunities for children and youth using the Active Healthy Kids Canada grading system. The Report Card relies primarily on research findings from 6 Research Institutes, coordinated by the University of Jyväskylä. The Research Work Group convened to evaluate the aggregated evidence and assign grades for each of the 9 PA indicators, following the Canadian Report Card protocol. Grades from A (highest) to F (lowest) varied in Finland as follows: 1) Overall physical activity—fulfillment of recommendations (D), 2) Organized sport participation (C), 3) Active play (D), 4) Active transportation (B), 5) Sedentary behaviors (D), 6) Family and peers (C), 7) School (B), 8) Community and the built environment (B), and 9) Government (B). This comprehensive summary and assessment of indicators related to PA in Finnish children and youth indicates that Finland still has many challenges to promote a physically active life style for youth.