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Rosemarie Martin and Elaine Murtagh

Background:

A cluster randomized controlled trial was conducted to assess the effectiveness of the Active Classrooms intervention, which integrates movement into academic lessons, on the moderate-to-vigorous physical activity levels (MVPA) of primary school children during class-time and throughout the school day.

Methods:

Ten classroom teachers and their students aged 8 to 12 years were recruited and randomized into the Active Classrooms intervention group (n = 131students, n = 5teachers) or a delayed-treatment controlled group (n = 117students, n = 5teachers). The intervention group participated in active academic lessons taught by the classroom teacher over an 8 week period. Accelerometers were used to gather physical activity data at baseline, postintervention and at 4 months follow-up. Teachers completed a questionnaire to evaluate the program.

Results:

A significant difference for change in daily class time MVPA levels was identified between the treatment (n = 95) and control (n = 91) groups from pre- to postintervention (P < .001) and this difference was maintained at follow-up (P < .001). No significant difference emerged between the treatment and control groups for change in school day MVPA levels from pre- to postintervention (P = .52) or follow-up (P = .09). Teachers reported that they were highly satisfied with the program.

Conclusions:

Movement integration has the potential to improve physical activity levels of primary school children in the classroom.

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Elaine M. Murtagh and Marie H. Murphy

The purpose of this study was to (1) determine the physical activity levels of 9–11 year old children, and (2) compare the activity levels of children who commute to school by active and passive modes. 140 children aged 9–11 years (85 boys) were recruited from four urban Irish schools. Mode of commuting was assessed by questionnaire. Step counts were measured for 4 consecutive days. Mean daily step counts for the sample were 14386 ± 5634. Boys were significantly more active than girls (15857 ± 5482 vs. 12113 ± 5127 steps). Eighty-seven children (62.1%) traveled by car, 51 children (36.4%) walked to school, one child traveled by bus and one child cycled. Children who walked or cycled to school had higher daily step counts than those who traveled by passive modes (16118 ± 5757 vs. 13363 ± 5332 steps). Active commuting to school may therefore represent a worthwhile strategy for improving children’s physical activity levels.

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Elaine Murtagh, Maureen Mulvihill and Oonagh Markey

The school has been identified as a key setting to promote physical activity. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of a classroom-based activity break on in-school step counts of primary school children. Data for 90 children (49 boys, 41 girls, 9.3 ± 1.4 years) from three Irish primary schools is presented. In each school one class was randomly assigned as the intervention group and another as controls. Children’s step counts were measured for five consecutive days during school hours at baseline and follow-up. Teachers of the intervention classes led a 10 min activity break in the classroom each day (Bizzy Break!). Mean daily in-school steps for the intervention at baseline and follow-up were 5351 and 5054. Corresponding values for the control group were 5469 and 4246. There was a significant difference in the change in daily steps from baseline to follow-up between groups (p < .05). There was no evidence that girls and boys responded differently to the intervention (p > .05). Children participating in a daily 10 min classroom-based activity break undertake more physical activity during school hours than controls.

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Elaine M. Murtagh, Colin Boreham, Alan Nevill, Gareth Davison, Tom Trinick, Ellie Duly, Mawloud El-Agnaf and Marie H. Murphy

Background:

Markers of inflammation are emerging as novel indices of cardiovascular risk. These markers have been shown to alter acutely after intense exercise; however, the effects of more moderate intensity exercise in healthy individuals is not known. Walking forms a cornerstone of physical activity promotion, so the inflammatory response to this exercise merits investigation. This study evaluated the effects of a 45-min walk on C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin 6 (IL-6), in sedentary, overweight men.

Methods:

Fifteen men (49.7 ± 5.9 y) walked for 45 min at 60 to 70% of predicted maximum heart rate. Fasted blood samples were taken prior to and immediately 1 hr and 24 h post-walk.

Results:

IL-6 decreased from 1 h post-walk to 24 h post-walk (P < 0.01). No significant changes were observed in CRP.

Conclusions:

These findings suggest that 45 min walking at 60 to 70% HRmax-p causes a decrease in IL-6 24 h post-exercise, but does not evoke a significant response in CRP levels.

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Deirdre M. Harrington, Sarahjane Belton, Tara Coppinger, Muireann Cullen, Alan Donnelly, Kieran Dowd, Teresa Keating, Richard Layte, Marie Murphy, Niamh Murphy, Elaine Murtagh and Catherine Woods

Background:

Physical activity (PA) levels are a key performance indicator for policy documents in Ireland. The first Ireland Report Card on Physical Activity in Children and Youth aims to set a robust baseline for future surveillance of indicators related to PA in children and youth.

Methods:

Data collected between 2003−2010 on more than 35,000 7- to 18-year-old children and youth were used and graded using a standardized grading system for 10 indicators.

Results:

Grades assigned for the indicators were as follows: overall physical activity levels, D-; sedentary behavior (TV viewing), C-; organized sport participation, C-: physical education, D-; active play, inconclusive (INC); active transportation, D; school, C-, community and the built environment, B; family, INC; and government, INC.

Conclusions:

PA recommendations exist in Ireland but this Report Card has shown that participation is still low. A number of promising policies, programs and services are in place but these require thorough evaluation and adequate resourcing. Agreement and implementation of a common framework for the systematic surveillance of indictors related to PA of children and youth is necessary to monitor change over time and ensure the impact of promising work is captured.

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Deirdre M. Harrington, Marie Murphy, Angela Carlin, Tara Coppinger, Alan Donnelly, Kieran P. Dowd, Teresa Keating, Niamh Murphy, Elaine Murtagh, Wesley O’Brien, Catherine Woods and Sarahjane Belton

Background:

Physical activity (PA) is a key performance indicator for policy documents in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Building on baseline grades set in 2014, Ireland’s second Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth allows for continued surveillance of indicators related to PA in children and youth.

Methods:

Data and information were extracted and collated for 10 indicators and graded using an international standardized grading system.

Results:

Overall, 7 grades stayed the same, 2 increased, and 1 decreased. Grades were assigned as follows: Overall PA, D (an increase); Sedentary Behavior (TV), C-; Physical Education, D-; Active Play, Incomplete/Inconclusive (INC); Active Transportation, D; School, D (a decrease); Home (Family), INC; Community and the Built Environment, B+ (an increase); and Government, INC. Unlike 2014’s report card, different grades for the Republic (C-) and Northern Ireland (C+) were assigned for Organized Sport Participation.

Conclusions:

Although the grade for Overall PA levels increased to a D, this may reflect the increased quality and quantity of data available. The double burden of low PA and high sedentary levels are concerning and underscore the need for advocacy toward, and surveillance of, progress in achieving targets set by the new National Physical Activity Plan in the Republic and obesity and sport plans in the North.