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Genevieve Fridlund Dunton and Margaret Schneider

Background:

Walking short distances provides a convenient opportunity to attain the health benefits of moderate-intensity physical activity. The present study tested the reliability and validity of an instrument designed to assess self-efficacy to overcome barriers to walking for transportation.

Methods:

A sample of 305 undergraduates, ages 18 to 46 y (mean = 20.6 y) (70.3% female), completed self-efficacy measures for travel-related walking and for vigorous exercise. Minutes of moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity were assessed using a MTI accelerometer (n = 85).

Results:

Overall, subjects reported low levels of self-efficacy to overcome barriers to walking for transportation. The eight-item walking for transportation self-efficacy scale demonstrated good reliability, discriminant validity, and expected relations to physical activity criteria.

Conclusion:

The conceptual distinction between self-efficacy for travel-related walking and self-efficacy for vigorous exercise may have important implications for interventions seeking to promote moderate-intensity physical activity through walking for transportation.

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Genevieve Fridlund Dunton, Audie A. Atienza, James Tscherne and Daniel Rodriguez

Research sought to identify combinations of risk and protective factors predicting change in physical activity (PA) over one year in high school students. Adolescents (N = 344; M = 15.7 years) participated in a longitudinal study with assessment of demographics, substance use/smoking exposure, height and weight, psychological factors, and PA in 10th and 11th grade. PA participation in 11th grade was greatest for adolescents who engaged in PA and had high sports competence (78%), and least for adolescents who did not engage in or enjoy PA (13%) in 10th grade. Identifying adolescent subgroups at risk for decreasing PA can inform the development of tailored interventions.

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Genevieve F. Dunton, Michael Cousineau and Kim D. Reynolds

Background:

Policy strategies aimed at modifying aspects of the social, physical, economic, and educational environments have been proposed as potential solutions to the growing problem of physical inactivity. To develop effective physical activity policies in these and other areas, greater understanding of how and why policies successfully impact behavior change is needed.

Methods:

The current paper proposes a conceptual framework explaining how policy strategies map onto health behavior theoretical variables and processes thought to lead to physical activity change. This framework is used to make hypotheses about the potential effectiveness of different policy strategies.

Results:

Health behavior theories suggest that policies providing information may be particularly useful for individuals who are not yet considering or have only recently begun to consider becoming more physically active. Policies that provide opportunities may be less effective for individuals who do not find physical activity to be inherently fun and interesting. Policies that offer incentives or require the behavior may not be particularly useful at promoting long-term changes in physical activity.

Conclusion:

Exploring possible connections between policy strategies and theoretical constructs can help to clarify how each approach might work and for whom it may be the most appropriate to implement.

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Genevieve Dunton, Vicki J. Ebin, Merav W. Efrat, Rafael Efrat, Christianne J. Lane and Scott Plunkett

Objective:

The current study investigates the extent to which a refundable tax credit could be used to increase low-income children’s after-school physical activity levels.

Methods:

An experimental study was conducted evaluating the effectiveness of an intervention offering a simulated refundable tax credit to parents of elementary-school-age children (n = 130) for enrollment in after-school physical activity programs. A randomized controlled design was used, with data collected at baseline, immediately following the 4-month intervention (postintervention), and 6 weeks after the end of the intervention (follow-up). Evaluation measures included (1) enrollment rate, time spent, weekly participation frequency, duration of enrollment, and long-term enrollment patterns in after-school physical activity programs and (2) moderate to vigorous physical activity.

Results:

The simulated tax credits did not significantly influence low-income children’s rates of enrollment in after-school physical activity programs, frequency of participation, time spent in after-school physical activity programs, and overall moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity at postintervention or follow-up.

Conclusion:

The use of refundable tax credits as incentives to increase participation in after-school physical activity programs in low-income families may have limited effectiveness. Lawmakers might consider other methods of fiscal policy to promote physical activity such as direct payment to after-school physical activity program providers for enrolling and serving a low-income child in a qualified program, or improvements to programming and infrastructure.

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Trevor A. Pickering, Jimi Huh, Stephen Intille, Yue Liao, Mary Ann Pentz and Genevieve F. Dunton

Background:

Decisions to perform moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) involve behavioral cognitive processes that may differ within individuals depending on the situation.

Methods:

Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) was used to examine the relationships of momentary behavioral cognitions (ie, self-efficacy, outcome expectancy, intentions) with MVPA (measured by accelerometer). A sample of 116 adults (mean age, 40.3 years; 72.4% female) provided real-time EMA responses via mobile phones across 4 days. Multilevel models were used to test whether momentary behavioral cognitions differed across contexts and were associated with subsequent MVPA. Mixed-effects location scale models were used to examine whether subject-level means and within-subjects variances in behavioral cognitions were associated with average daily MVPA.

Results:

Momentary behavioral cognitions differed across contexts for self-efficacy (P = .007) but not for outcome expectancy (P = .53) or intentions (P = .16). Momentary self-efficacy, intentions, and their interaction predicted MVPA within the subsequent 2 hours (Ps < .01). Average daily MVPA was positively associated with within-subjects variance in momentary self-efficacy and intentions for physical activity (Ps < .05).

Conclusions:

Although momentary behavioral cognitions are related to subsequent MVPA, adults with higher average MVPA have more variation in physical activity self-efficacy and intentions. Performing MVPA may depend more on how much behavioral cognitions vary across the day than whether they are generally high or low.

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Genevieve Fridlund Dunton, Margaret Schneider, Dan J. Graham and Dan M. Cooper

Cross-sectional research examined whether physical activity or physical fitness was more closely linked to physical self-concept in adolescent females ages 14 to 17 (N = 103, 63% Caucasian). Moderate physical activity and vigorous physical activity were measured through a 3-day physical activity recall. Physical fitness was assessed using highly accurate measures of peak oxygen consumption (via cycle ergometer) and percent body fat (via dual X-ray absorptiometer). The Physical Self-Description Questionnaire (PSDQ) assessed self-concept in 11 domains (e.g., health, endurance, appearance). Pearson’s correlations showed that vigorous physical activity was positively associated with scores on most of the PSDQ scales (p < .005). Peak oxygen consumption was positively related to all of the selfconcept domains (p < .001), and percent body fat was negatively related on most of the PSDQ scales (p < .005). Multiple-regression analyses found that physical fitness (i.e., peak oxygen consumption and percent body fat) was more closely related to physical self-concept than was physical activity. In addition to the possibility that genetically determined fitness levels may influence physical selfconcept, these findings suggest that programs designed to elevate self-perceptions may require physical activity levels sufficient to improve cardiovascular fitness and decrease body fat.

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Eleanor B. Tate, Anuja Shah, Malia Jones, Mary Ann Pentz, Yue Liao and Genevieve Dunton

Background:

Research on adolescent physical activity is mixed regarding the role of parent activity. This study tested parent encouragement, direct modeling, and perceived influence as moderators of objectively-measured (accelerometer) parent and child moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) associations.

Methods:

Parent-child dyads (n = 423; mean child age = 11.33 yrs.) wore accelerometers for 7 days; parents completed surveys. Hierarchical linear regression models tested moderation using a product of constituent terms interaction.

Results:

Parent-reported encouragement moderated the association between parent and child MVPA (β = –.15, P = .01, ΔR 2 = .02, P < .01). Among parents with lower MVPA, child MVPA was higher for children receiving high encouragement (mean = 3.06, SE = .17) vs. low (mean = 3.03, SE = .15, P = .02) and moderate encouragement (mean = 3.40, SE = .09) vs. low (P = .04).

Conclusions:

Physical activity promotion programs may use parent encouragement as a tool to boost child activity, but must consider other child and parent characteristics that could attenuate effects.

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Margaret Schneider, Genevieve F. Dunton, Stan Bassin, Dan J. Graham, Alon Eliakim and Dan M. Cooper

Background:

Many female adolescents participate in insufficient physical activity to maintain cardiovascular fitness and promote optimal bone growth. This study evaluates the impact of a school-based intervention on fitness, activity, and bone among adolescent females.

Methods:

Subjects were assigned to an intervention (n = 63) or comparison (n = 59) group, and underwent assessments of cardiovascular fitness (VO2peak), physical activity, body composition, bone mineral density (BMD), bone mineral content (BMC), and serum markers of bone turnover at baseline and at the end of each of two school semesters.

Results:

The intervention increased physical activity, VO2peak, and BMC for the thoracic spine (P values < 0.05). Bone turnover markers were not affected. In longitudinal analyses of the combined groups, improvements in cardiovascular fitness predicted increased bone formation (P < 0.01) and bone resorption (P < 0.05).

Conclusion:

A school-based intervention for adolescent females effectively increased physical activity, cardiovascular fitness, and thoracic spine BMC.

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Yue Liao, Stephen Intille, Jennifer Wolch, Mary Ann Pentz and Genevieve Fridlund Dunton

Background:

Research on children’s sedentary behavior has relied on recall-based self-report or accelerometer methods, which do not assess the context of such behavior.

Purpose:

This study used ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to determine where and with whom children’s sedentary behavior occurs during their nonschool time.

Methods:

Children (N = 120) ages 9–13 years (51% male, 33% Hispanic) wore mobile phones that prompted surveys (20 total) for 4 days. Surveys measured current activity (eg, exercise, watching TV), physical location (eg, home, outdoors), and social company (eg, family, friends).

Results:

Children engaged in a greater percentage of leisure-oriented (eg, watching TV) than productive (eg, reading, doing homework) sedentary behavior (70% vs 30%, respectively). Most of children’s sedentary activity occurred at home (85%). Children’s sedentary activity took place most often with family members (58%). Differences in physical context of sedentary behavior were found for older vs. younger children (P < .05). Type of sedentary behavior differed by gender, racial/ethnic group, and social context (P < .05).

Conclusion:

Children may prefer or have greater opportunities to be sedentary in some contexts than others. Research demonstrates the potential for using EMA to capture real-time information about children’s sedentary behavior during their nonschool time.

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Genevieve F. Dunton, Yue Liao, Stephen Intille, Jennifer Wolch and Mary Ann Pentz

Background:

This study used real-time electronic surveys delivered through mobile phones, known as Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA), to determine whether level and experience of leisure-time physical activity differ across children’s physical and social contexts.

Methods:

Children (N = 121; ages 9 to 13 years; 52% male, 32% Hispanic/Latino) participated in 4 days (Fri.–Mon.) of EMA during nonschool time. Electronic surveys (20 total) assessed primary activity (eg, active play/sports/exercise), physical location (eg, home, outdoors), social context (eg, friends, alone), current mood (positive and negative affect), and enjoyment. Responses were time-matched to the number of steps and minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA; measured by accelerometer) in the 30 minutes before each survey.

Results:

Mean steps and MVPA were greater outdoors than at home or at someone else’s house (all P < .05). Steps were greater with multiple categories of company (eg, friends and family together) than with family members only or alone (all P < .05). Enjoyment was greater outdoors than at home or someone else’s house (all P < .05). Negative affect was greater when alone and with family only than friends only (all P < .05).

Conclusion:

Results describing the value of outdoor and social settings could inform context-specific interventions in this age group.