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The Association Between Preschooler Physical Activity Duration and Intensity and Social Emotional Development: Findings From the PLAYCE Study

Hayley E. Christian, Leanne Lester, Mohamed K. Al Marzooqi, Stewart G. Trost, and Alana Papageorgiou

Background: Social emotional development is imperative to young children’s long-term psychological and physical health. Physical activity (PA) may be important for young children’s social emotional development. The association between preschooler PA duration and intensity and social emotional development was investigated. Methods: Data from six hundred and fifty-one 2- to 4-year-olds in the Play Spaces and Environments for Children’s Physical Activity (PLAYCE) study were analyzed. PA was measured using ActiGraph-GT3X accelerometers worn over 7 days. Social emotional development was measured using the parent-completed Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Multilevel linear regression models examined the association between PA duration and intensity and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire subscales. Results: Preschoolers did 158.2 (SD = 40.2) minutes per day of PA with 27% meeting the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines for the Early Years. There was a 1.74 point decrease in the total Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire score for each additional hour of moderate-intensity PA per day (P < .05). Similar significant associations were found across all domains of social emotional development except hyperactivity, and were consistent across different intensities of light, moderate, and vigorous PA. Conclusions: These findings highlight the potential importance of PA, especially moderate-intensity play-based PA, for different aspects of preschool children’s social emotional development. Longitudinal and intervention research is required to confirm whether promoting PA in the early years provides developmental benefit.

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Dog Ownership and Physical Activity: A Review of the Evidence

Hayley E. Christian, Carri Westgarth, Adrian Bauman, Elizabeth A. Richards, Ryan E. Rhodes, Kelly R. Evenson, Joni A. Mayer, and Roland J. Thorpe Jr.

Background:

Dog walking is a strategy for increasing population levels of physical activity (PA). Numerous cross-sectional studies of the relationship between dog ownership and PA have been conducted. The purpose was to review studies comparing PA of dog owners (DO) to nondog owners (NDO), summarize the prevalence of dog walking, and provide recommendations for research.

Methods:

A review of published studies (1990−2010) examining DO and NDO PA and the prevalence of dog walking was conducted (N = 29). Studies estimating the relationship between dog ownership and PA were grouped to create a pointestimate using meta-analysis.

Results:

Most studies were conducted in the last 5 years, were cross-sectional, and sampled adults from Australia or the United States. Approximately 60% of DO walked their dog, with a median duration and frequency of 160 minutes/week and 4 walks/week, respectively. Meta-analysis showed DO engage in more walking and PA than NDO and the effect sizes are small to moderate (d = 0.26 and d = 0.16, respectively). Three studies provided evidence of a directional relationship between dog ownership and walking.

Conclusions:

Longitudinal and interventional studies would provide stronger causal evidence for the relationship between dog ownership and PA. Improved knowledge of factors associated with dog walking will guide intervention research.

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The Effect of the Social and Physical Environment on Children’s Independent Mobility to Neighborhood Destinations

Hayley E. Christian, Charlotte D. Klinker, Karen Villanueva, Matthew W. Knuiman, Sarah A. Foster, Stephan R. Zubrick, Mark Divitini, Lisa Wood, and Billie Giles-Corti

Background:

Relationships between context-specific measures of the physical and social environment and children’s independent mobility to neighborhood destination types were examined.

Methods:

Parents in RESIDE’s fourth survey reported whether their child (8–15 years; n = 181) was allowed to travel without an adult to school, friend’s house, park and local shop. Objective physical environment measures were matched to each of these destinations. Social environment measures included neighborhood perceptions and items specific to local independent mobility.

Results:

Independent mobility to local destinations ranged from 30% to 48%. Independent mobility to a local park was less likely as the distance to the closest park (small and large size) increased and less likely with additional school grounds (P < .05). Independent mobility to school was less likely as the distance to the closest large park increased and if the neighborhood was perceived as unsafe (P < .05). Independent mobility to a park or shops decreased if parenting social norms were unsupportive of children’s local independent movement (P < .05).

Conclusions:

Independent mobility appears dependent upon the specific destination being visited and the impact of neighborhood features varies according to the destination examined. Findings highlight the importance of access to different types and sizes of urban green space for children’s independent mobility to parks.