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Melissa Rittenhouse, Sarah-Jeanne Salvy, and Jacob E. Barkley

The purpose of this study was to determine the amount of physical and sedentary activity normal-weight and at-risk-for/overweight boys perform when alone, with a peer of similar weight and with a peer of different weight. Participants included boys, ages 8–12 years, classified as either normal-weight (<85th BMI percentile; N = 12) or at-risk-for/overweight (<85th BMI percentile; N = 12). At-risk-for/overweight boys allocated a greater amount of time to sedentary activities and accumulated fewer accelerometer counts than normal-weight boys in the alone condition. Once paired with a peer of either similar or different weight there were no differences between groups. These results indicate the presence of an unknown peer has a positive effect on at-risk-for/overweight children’s physical activity behavior.

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Mallory Kobak, Andrew Lepp, Michael Rebold, Ellen Glickman, and Jacob E. Barkley

Purpose: To assess children’s physical activity, sedentary behavior, liking, and motivation during 3 separate simulated recess conditions: playing alone, with their parent participating, and with their peer participating. Methods: Children participated in the 3 separate conditions. During each condition, the children had access to an outdoor playground and sedentary activity options for 30 minutes. Accelerometry recorded the physical activity. Time allocated to sedentary options was monitored via a stopwatch. A visual analog scale was used to assess liking, and motivation was assessed as the children’s willingness to participate in an additional 10 minutes of each condition. Results: The children sat 88% less and were 33% more physically active with their peer versus playing alone. The children also sat 65% less during the parent condition than alone. Lastly, the children reported ≥34% liking and were ≥2-fold more likely to participate in the additional 10-minute activity bout during the parent and peer conditions than alone. The differences were significant (P ≤ .05) except for the children’s decision to participate in the additional 10 minutes in the parent versus the alone condition (P = .058). Conclusions: Relative to the alone condition, the presence of a peer or parent reduced sedentary behavior and increased liking and the motivation to participate in that condition. However, only the presence of a peer increased physical activity versus alone.

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Amanda L. Penko, Jacob E. Barkley, Anson B. Rosenfeldt, and Jay L. Alberts

Background: Parkinson’s disease (PD) results in a global decrease in information processing, ultimately resulting in dysfunction executing motor-cognitive tasks. Motor-cognitive impairments contribute to postural instability, often leading to falls and decreased physical activity. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of a multimodal training (MMT) versus single-modal (SMT) training on motor symptoms, fall frequency, and physical activity in patients with PD classified as fallers. Methods: Individuals with PD were randomized into SMT (n = 11) or MMT (n = 10) and completed training 3 times per week for 8 weeks. The SMT completed gait and cognitive training separately, whereas MMT completed gait and cognitive training simultaneously during each 45-minute session. Physical activity, 30-day fall frequency, and PD motor symptoms were assessed at baseline, posttreatment, and during a 4-week follow-up. Results: Both groups exhibited significant (P < .05) improvements in clinical ratings of motor function, as symptoms improved by 8% and 15% for SMT and MMT, respectively. Physical activity significantly increased (P < .05) for both groups from baseline (mean steps 4942 [4415]) to posttreatment (mean steps 5914 [5425]). The MMT resulted in a significant 60% reduction in falls. Conclusions: Although SMT and MMT approaches are both effective in improving physical activity and motor symptoms of PD, only MMT reduced fall frequency after the intervention.

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Mallory S. Kobak, Andrew Lepp, Michael J. Rebold, Hannah Faulkner, Shannon Martin, and Jacob E. Barkley

Background: Mobile Internet-connected electronic devices provide access to activities that have traditionally been associated with sedentary behavior. Because they are portable, these devices can be utilized in any environment. Therefore, providing children with access to these devices in environments that typically promote physical activity may result in a reduction in physical activity behavior. Purpose: To assess children’s physical and sedentary (ie, sitting) activity with and without the presence of a mobile Internet-connected tablet computer. Methods: A total of 20 children [6.7 (1.9) y old] participated in 2 simulated recess conditions in a gymnasium on separate days. During each condition, children had free-choice access physical activity options and a table of sedentary activities for 40 minutes. During 1 session, the iPad was present, and in the other session, it was not. Physical activity was monitored via an accelerometer, and sedentary time was monitored via a stopwatch. Results: Children significantly (P ≤ .03) reduced average physical activity intensity and increased their sedentary behavior with the iPad present [4.4 (4.0) metabolic equivalents/min and 20.9 (12.4) min sitting] versus the condition without the iPad present [5.3 (4.0) metabolic equivalents/min and 13.6 (13.2) min sitting]. Conclusion: Introducing an mobile Internet-connected tablet computer into a gymnasium reduced children’s physical activity intensity by 17% and increased sedentary behavior by 54%.

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Gabriel J. Sanders, Judith Juvancic-Heltzel, Megan L. Williamson, James N. Roemmich, Denise M. Feda, and Jacob E. Barkley


Increasing autonomy by manipulating the choice of available physical activity options in a laboratory setting can increase physical activity in older children and adults. However, the effect of manipulating the number of physically active choices has yet to be examined in young children in a gymnasium environment.


Twenty children (n = 10 girls, 6.1 ± 1.4 years old) individually participated in 2 [low choice (LC), high choice (HC)] free-choice activity conditions for 30 minutes in a 4360 square foot gymnasium. Children had access to 2 or 8 physical activity options in the LC and HC conditions, respectively. Physical activity behavior was measured via accelerometry.


Children’s 30-minute accelerometer counts increased (P < .03) from the LC (2675 ± 294 counts·min-1) to the HC (3224 ± 280 counts·min-1) condition.


Providing greater autonomy through choice of a greater number of physically active options increased young children’s physical activity participation by 20.5%.

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James N. Roemmich, Christina L. Lobarinas, Jacob E. Barkley, Tressa M. White, Rocco Paluch, and Leonard H. Epstein

This study evaluated the effectiveness of an open-loop system that reinforces physical activity with TV watching to increase children’s physical activity. Nonoverweight, sedentary boys and girls (8–12 y) were randomized to a group that received feedback of activity counts + reinforcement for physical activity by providing access to television (F+R, n = 20); or to feedback, no reinforcement (Feedback, n = 20) or no feedback, no reinforcement control (Control, n = 21) groups. Children wore an accelerometer with a count display for 4-months with a 1-year follow-up. F+R reduced TV by 68 min/day and TV time was lower than the Feedback (p < .005) and Control (p < .002) groups. TV time of F+R remained 31 min lower (p < .02) than baseline at 1-year. F+R had a 44% increase in physical activity, which was greater than the feedback (p < .04) and control (p < .01) groups. An open-loop system decreases TV viewing and increases physical activity of children for 4-months. TV of the F+R group remained lower at 12 months, suggesting a reduction in screen-time habits.