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Con Burns, John J. Murphy and Ciaran MacDonncha


Knowledge of the physical activity correlate profile of adolescent females will provide insight into decreasing physical activity patterns among adolescent females.


Correlates of physical activity and physical activity stage of change were assessed during 2007–2008 among 871 Irish adolescent females in years 1–6 in secondary schools (15.28 ± 1.8 years). Multivariate Analysis of Variance was used to identify whether differences in correlates of physical activity could be detected across year in school and physical activity stages of change.


Significant differences (P < .01) were found in 11 of the 16 measured correlates across year in school and in 14 of the 16 correlates across stage of change. Effect size estimates and regression analysis revealed perceived competence, peer social support and intention to be physically active (partial eta range (ηp 2) .21–.25) to be the most important predictors of physical activity stage of change.


Females in more senior years in school and in earlier physical activity stages of change reported a significantly less positive physical activity correlate profile than females in junior years and in later physical activity stages of change. This finding supports the construct validity of the physical activity stages of change.

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Paul Kinnerk, Stephen Harvey, Philip Kearney, Ciaran MacDonncha and Mark Lyons

Game Based Approaches (GBAs) have been advocated as pedagogies that positively impact athletes’ personal and social development, decision-making, tactical awareness and physical fitness. Despite the growing support for GBAs in the academic literature, evidence is currently lacking regarding the application of GBAs across different sports and developmental levels. Accordingly, the present study aimed to investigate Gaelic football coaches’ self-reported practice activities and session sequencing and assess how these aligned with benchmarks outlined in the GBA academic literature. In addition, coaches’ practice activities were examined as a function of developmental level (academy/developmental/senior) and time of the season (pre/peak). Responses to an online survey, completed by 150 practicing inter-county Gaelic football coaches, were analysed. During pre-season, coaches estimated spending the majority of time in Training Form activities (e.g., isolated fitness, technical skill), whereas they predominately utilised Playing Form activities (e.g., modified games) during peak-season. Coaches reported utilising Training Form activities in the first half of their coaching session before progressing to game like activities in the second half of the session. Few differences were noted across developmental levels. Further education with Gaelic football coaches is required to ensure a more sophisticated conceptual understanding and application of GBAs in coaches’ practice.

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Brendan T. O’Keeffe, Alan E. Donnelly and Ciaran MacDonncha

Purpose: To examine the test–retest reliability of student-administered (SA) health-related fitness tests in school settings and to compare indices of reliability with those taken by trained research-assistants. Methods: Participants (n = 86; age: 13.43 [0.33] y) were divided into 2 groups, SA (n = 45, girls = 26) or research-assistant administered (RA; n = 41, girls = 21). The SA group had their measures taken by 8 students (age: 15.59 [0.56] y, girls = 4), and the RA group had their measures taken by 8 research-assistants (age: 21.21 [1.38], girls = 5). Tests were administered twice by both groups, 1 week apart. Tests included body mass index, handgrip strength, standing broad jump, isometric plank hold, 90° push-up, 4 × 10-m shuttle run, back-saver sit and reach, and blood pressure. Results: Intraclass correlation coefficients for SA (≥.797) and RA (≥.866) groups were high, and the observed systematic error (Bland–Altman plot) between test 1 and test 2 was close to 0 for all tests. The coefficient of variation was less than 10% for all tests in the SA group, aside from the 90° push-up (24.3%). The SA group had a marginally lower combined mean coefficient of variation across all tests (6.5%) in comparison with the RA group (6.8%). Conclusion: This study demonstrates that, following familiarization training, SA health-related fitness tests in school-based physical education programs can be considered reliable.

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Joseph J. Murphy, Ciaran MacDonncha, Marie H. Murphy, Niamh Murphy, Alan M. Nevill and Catherine B. Woods

Background: Although levels of physical activity (PA) have been researched, no information on how university students organize their PA across different life domains is available. The purpose of this study is to explore if and how students organize their PA across transport and recreational domains, and to identify the psychosocial factors related to these patterns. Methods: Students from 31 Irish universities completed a supervised online survey measuring participant characteristics, psychosocial factors, and PA. Two-step cluster analysis was used to identify specific PA patterns in students. Binary logistic regressions identified factors associated with cluster membership while controlling for age, sex, household income, and perceived travel time to a university. Results: Analysis was performed on 6951 students (50.7% male; 21.51 [5.55] y). One Low Active cluster emerged. Four clusters containing a form of PA emerged including Active Commuters, Active in University, Active Outside University, and High Active. Increases in motivation and planning improved the likelihood of students being categorized in a cluster containing PA. Conclusion: One size does not fit all when it comes to students PA engagement, with 5 patterns identified. Health professionals are advised to incorporate strategies for increasing students’ motivation, action planning, and coping planning into future PA promotion efforts.

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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.

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Brendan T. O’ Keeffe, Ciaran MacDonncha, Kwok Ng and Alan E. Donnelly

Purpose: To examine the prevalence of and approaches to monitoring health-related physical fitness (HRPF) in secondary school-based physical education programs. Methods: Physical education teachers (N = 327; 56.6% females) from 235 secondary schools (33.1% of national total) in the Republic of Ireland completed a survey designed specifically for the purposes of this study. Results: HRPF tests were used by 95.3% of teachers. A significant decline in the testing frequency was observed from the junior grades (age 13–15 years) to the senior grades (age 16–18 years) (p < .001). Just over half (51.7%) of the teachers discarded the test results after a single use. Less than one third of the teachers indicated that they shared the test results with the students’ parents. The vast majority (87.0%) of the teachers agreed that the development of a digital platform would facilitate monitoring test results over time. Conclusions: HRPF testing is highly prevalent in secondary schools. More actions are needed to ensure that teachers use pedagogically sound student-centered approaches toward monitoring HRPF, with a focus on learning that may lead to more positive testing experiences for students. Consideration should be given to the development of digital platforms to facilitate monitoring and reporting HRPF.