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James Dollman and Nicole R. Lewis

This study examined whether active commuting to and from school was associated with more frequent walking and cycling to other neighborhood destinations. Parents reported on free-time physical activity and frequency of active commuting among 1,643 South Australians (9–15 years), as well as their perceptions of risk associated with active commuting in the neighborhood. Groups were formed on the basis of active and motorized transport to and from school and compared on the frequency of walking and cycling to other neighborhood destinations. Those who actively commuted between home and school were approximately 30% more likely to actively commute to other neighborhood destinations, independent of age, free-time physical activity, and neighborhood risk. Active commuting to and from school is part of a broader habit of walking and cycling in the neighborhood among school age South Australians. The advantages of promoting active transport between home and school might extend beyond the energy expenditure of that journey alone.

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Verity Booth, Alex Rowlands and James Dollman

Purpose: To assess trends in South Australian children’s physical activity between 1985 and 2003 and 2013 in the contexts of school active transport, organized sport, physical education, and school break times. Method: The 1985 Australian Health and Fitness Survey was administered in South Australian schools in 2004 (8 schools) and 2013 (9 schools) and was demographically matched to the 10 South Australian schools in the Australian Health and Fitness Survey. Ordinal logistic modeling was used to identify trends, stratified by older children (10–12 y) and early adolescent (13–15 y) subgroups. Results: School active transport generally declined for males and older female children (19 and 20 percentage points per decade, respectively), whereas early adolescent females increased in walking to school (11 percentage points per decade). School sport participation declined for early adolescents, and club sport participation declined in early adolescent females (23 percentage points per decade). Moderate to vigorous physical activity participation during school break times (particularly lunchtime) generally declined (16–26 percentage points per decade). Observed changes in most contexts occurred between 2004 and 2013. Conclusion: There was evidence of context-specific declines in children’s physical activity participation over this time span. Early adolescent females were the subgroup of most concern, experiencing declines in most contexts.

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James Dollman, Rebecca Stanley and Andrew Wilson

Valid measurement of youth physical activity is important and self-report methods provide convenient assessments at the population level. There is evidence that the validity of physical activity self-report varies by weight category. The aim of this study was to assess the validity of the 3-Day Physical Activity Recall (3DPAR), separately between normal weight and overweight/obese Australian youth. Accelerometer-derived physical activity variables were compared with 3DPAR variables in 155 (77 females) 11- to 14-year-olds from Adelaide, South Australia. In the whole sample, validity coefficients for self-reported moderate and moderate to vigorous physical activity were modest (rs = 0.12-0.31) and similar across gender and weight status categories. Validity coefficients for self-reported vigorous physical activity were much stronger (rs = 0.59-0.73) among overweight/obese than among normal weight participants. The validity of the 3DPAR in this study was low in the whole sample but varied according to physical activity intensity and the weight status of the child. Specifically, the 3DPAR may be appropriate for describing vigorous intensity physical activity among overweight and obese youth.

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Rebecca Megan Stanley, Kobie Boshoff and James Dollman


The after-school period is potentially a “critical window” for promoting physical activity in children. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore children’s perceptions of the factors influencing their engagement in physical activity during the after-school period as the first phase in the development of a questionnaire.


Fifty-four South Australian children age 10−13 years participated in same gender focus groups. Transcripts, field notes, and activity documents were analyzed using content analysis. Through an inductive thematic approach, data were coded and categorized into perceived barriers and facilitators according to a social ecological model.


Children identified a number of factors, including safety in the neighborhood and home settings, distance to and from places, weather, availability of time, perceived competence, enjoyment of physical activity, peer influence, and parent influence. New insights into bullying and teasing by peers and fear of dangerous animals and objects were revealed by the children.


In this study, hearing children’s voices allowed the emergence of factors which may not be exposed using existing surveys. These findings are grounded in children’s perceptions and therefore serve as a valuable contribution to the existing literature, potentially leading to improved intervention and questionnaire design.

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Tim S. Olds, Kate Ridley, James Dollman and Carol A. Maher

This study examined the convergent validity of a computerized use of time diary (MARCA) relative to pedometry. Participants aged 9–16 years wore a pedometer and completed the MARCA. Comparing pedometer data and self-report data collected for the same day (n = 297 participants), the correlation (Spearman’s rho) with PAL was 0.54 and with MVPA was 0.50. Comparing mean daily step counts over 6–7 days with averaged self-report data collected on different days (n = 1713 participants) Spearman’s rho for PAL was 0.45 and for MVPA was 0.44. Thus, the MARCA showed validity similar or superior to most self-report instruments for young people.

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James Dollman, Tim S. Olds, Adrian Esterman and Tim Kupke

The study aimed to establish pedometer step cut points in relation to weight status among 2,071 5–16 year old Australians. Height, weight and waist circumference were measured, and participants wore a pedometer for seven days. Pedometer values were taken as the average number of steps per day and weighted according to the ratio of weekdays to weekends. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used to identify the optimal pedometer counts to predict overweight. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to compare anthropometric variables across pedometer step quintiles. The ROC model for older females was nonsignificant. Optimal cut points were 12,000 for younger males, 11,000 for older males and 10,000 for younger females. These were largely confirmed by ANCOVA. The cut points were lower than previously reported for equivalent age groups. Cultural and environmental differences may necessitate population-specific guidelines to be established.

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Andrew N. Wilson, Timothy Olds, Kurt Lushington, Somayeh Parvazian and James Dollman


Brief classroom-based episodes of physical activity (active lesson breaks, ALBs) have improved schoolchildren’s classroom behaviors in some studies, and may also increase the likelihood of children meeting the recommended daily minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). However, there is emerging evidence that increases in physical activity at particular times of the day may lead to compensatory declines at other times. This study explored evidence for compensatory declines in response to a 10 min ALB during the school day.


Thirty-eight 12-year-old boys from a single elementary school completed intervention and control conditions in a cross-over design, with each phase lasting one week. The intervention consisted of a single 10-min active lesson break delivered on each of three days in the intervention week. Twenty-four hour accelerometry was used to quantify moderate and vigorous physical activity.


ALBs increased in-school MVPA by 5.8 min (p < .0001), but overall daily MVPA was similar between intervention and control conditions (77.2 vs 77.4 min/d, p > .05), However, vigorous physical activity increased significantly over the whole day (11.2 vs 8.9 min, p = .0006).


A brief episode of classroom-based play led to a modest increase in vigorous physical activity in elementary school students, but did not increase MVPA across the day.