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Lise Gauvin and John C. Spence

In this paper, milestones of psychological contributions to the study of exercise and fitness are summarized, the results of an archival study of empirical research published in 10 periodicals since 1990 are presented, and challenges facing researchers in this area are discussed. Psychological studies on exercise and fitness began to emerge in significant numbers in the late 1970s and have frequently been conceptualized with health outcomes in mind. Current research is published in almost equal numbers in physical activity and health periodicals, but researchers based in academic units related to physical activity publish less frequently in health-related journals. Aerobic exercise is studied more often than other types of exercise, and exercise adherence and the role of exercise for mental health are studied most frequently. Some challenges facing researchers include developing effective publication strategies, engaging in advocacy for the relevance of exercise and fitness, and bridging the gap between research and practice.

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Valerie Carson and John C. Spence

The purpose of this review was to examine seasonal variation in physical activity among children and adolescents. Searches were conducted of electronic databases for studies on seasonal differences in physical activity levels. A total of 35 studies, including children and adolescents between the ages of 2–19 years, were reviewed. Overall, 83% (29/35) of the studies found seasonal variation in physical activity among children and/or adolescents. The results were consistent regardless of the region, physical activity measure, or the study design but the findings were inconsistent across age categories.

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Navin Kaushal, Ryan E. Rhodes, John T. Meldrum, and John C. Spence

Background: A recent randomized controlled trial found that an intervention focused on developing an exercise habit increased weekly minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) over 8 wk compared to a control group. The purpose of the current study was to test if changes in habit, as well as other behavioral strategy constructs from the Multi-Process Action Control Test, mediated between group condition and MVPA (self-report and accelerometry). Methods: Inactive new gym members (N = 94) were randomized into control or experimental (habit-building) groups. Results: No construct entirely explained mediation condition (experimental and control) and changes in MVPA measured by accelerometry. Self-report MVPA found affective judgments, behavioral regulation, and preparatory habit to be mediated between group (experimental/control conditions) and changes in behavior (β = 0.36, 95% confidence interval [.05–.78]). Conclusions: Self-reported and objectively measured behavior models demonstrated complete and partial mediation, respectively. New gym members could benefit from successful behavioral enactment by developing constructs to support habit formation.

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Lisa Jasper, Lauren A. Beaupre, John C. Spence, and C. Allyson Jones

Few validated tools exist for measuring physical activity following total knee arthroplasty (TKA) despite the importance of returning to sufficient levels of physical activity post-TKA to achieve health benefits. This study examined the validity of two clinical measures—the Fitbit, a commercially available personal activity monitor, and the Community Healthy Activities Model Program for Seniors (CHAMPS), a self-report questionnaire—compared with a reference standard accelerometer, the SenseWearTM Armband (SWA). At 6-month post-TKA, 47 participants wore the Fitbit and SWA for 4 days and then completed the CHAMPS. Moderate-to-good correlation was observed between the Fitbit and SWA for steps (intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC] = .79), energy expenditure (ICC = .78), and energy expenditure <3 METS (ICC = .79). Poor-to-moderate correlation was observed between the CHAMPS and SWA (ICC = .43) with the questionnaire reporting lower daily energy expenditures than the SWA. Results showed that Fitbit may be a reasonable measurement tool to measure steps and energy expenditures in older adults following TKA.

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John C. Spence, Chris M. Blanchard, Marianne Clark, Ronald C. Plotnikoff, Kate E. Storey, and Linda McCargar

Background:

The purposes of this study were to determine if a) gender moderated the relationship between self-efficacy and physical activity (PA) among youth in Alberta, Canada, and, alternatively b) if self-efficacy mediated the relationship between gender and PA.

Methods:

A novel web-based tool was used to survey a regionally diverse sample of 4779 students (boys = 2222, girls = 2557) from 117 schools in grades 7 to 10 (mean age = 13.64 yrs.). Among other variables, students were asked about their PA and self-efficacy for participating in PA.

Results:

Based upon a series of multilevel analyses, self-efficacy was found to be a significantly stronger correlate of PA for girls. But, boys had significantly higher self-efficacy compared with girls, which resulted in significantly more PA.

Conclusions:

Findings suggest self-efficacy is an important correlate of PA among adolescent girls but that boys are more physically active because they have more self-efficacy for PA.

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Gavin R. McCormack, John C. Spence, Tanya Berry, and Patricia K. Doyle-Baker

Background:

Research regarding the pathways via which the environment influences physical activity is limited. This study examined the role of perceived behavioral control (PBC) in mediating the relationship between perceptions of neighborhood walkability and frequency of moderate (MODPA) and vigorous physical activity (VIGPA).

Methods:

Data were collected through a province-wide survey of physical activity. Telephone-interviews were conducted with 1207 adults and captured information about perceptions of neighborhood walkability, physical activity, PBC and demographics. Gender-stratified regression analyses were conducted to test PBC mediation of the built environment-physical activity association.

Results:

Among women easy access to places for physical activity was positively associated with MODPA and VIGPA. Having many shops and places within walking distance of homes was also positively associated with MODPA among women however; reporting sidewalks on most neighborhood streets, and crime rate in the neighborhood were negatively correlated with MODPA. Among men, easy access to places for physical activity was positively associated and crime rate in the neighborhood negatively associated, with VIGPA. After adjusting for PBC, the association between easy access to places for physical activity and VIGPA and MODPA attenuated for men and women suggesting mediation of this association by PBC.

Conclusions:

PBC mediated the relationship between easy access to places for physical activity and physical activity, but not for other perceived environmental attributes.

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John C. Spence, Kerry R. McGannon, and Pauline Poon

The purpose of this study was to quantitatively review the body of research on exercise and global self-esteem (GSE). This review focuses specifically on studies using adults and also incorporates both published and unpublished works. Computer and manual searches identified 113 studies matching the selection criteria. Each study was coded according to 20 study features. A total of 128 effect sizes (d) were derived. As indicated by effect-size magnitude, participation in exercise brought about a small change in GSE (d = +0.23). Change in physical fitness and type of program were significant moderators of the effect of exercise on GSE. Larger effect sizes were observed for those who experienced significant changes in physical fitness and those participating in exercise or lifestyle programs as opposed to skills training.

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Jodie A. Stearns, Paul J. Veugelers, Tara-Leigh McHugh, Chris Sprysak, and John C. Spence

Background: Potential income disparities were examined in the (1) awareness and uptake of the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit (CFTC), and (2) physical activity (PA) of children from families who did and did not claim the credit in Alberta, Canada in 2012 and 2014. Methods: Secondary analyses of 3 cross-sectional data sets of grade 5 students (10–11 y) were performed, including Alberta Project Promoting healthy Living for Everyone Schools 2012 (N = 1037), and Raising healthy Eating and Active Living Kids Alberta 2012 (N = 2676), and 2014 (N = 3125). Parents reported whether they claimed the CFTC in the previous year, their education and household income, and their child’s gender and PA. Children self-reported their PA from the previous 7 days. In Alberta Project Promoting healthy Living for Everyone Schools, children also wore pedometers. Analyses adjusted for clustering within schools and demographic factors. Results: Higher income families (≥$50,000/y) were more likely to be aware of and to have claimed the CFTC compared with low-income families (<$50,000/y). The CFTC was associated with organized PA with larger associations for higher-income families (odds ratio = 9.03–9.32, Ps < .001) compared with lower-income families (odds ratio = 3.27–4.05, Ps < .01). No associations existed for overall PA or pedometer steps with the CFTC. Conclusions: Income disparities exist in the awareness, uptake, and potential impact of the CFTC. Tax credits are not effective in promoting overall PA.

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Morgan Potter, John C. Spence, Normand Boulé, Jodie A. Stearns, and Valerie Carson

Purpose: Understanding the correlates of children’s fitness as they develop is needed. The objectives of this study were to 1) examine the longitudinal associations between physical activity (PA), screen time (ST), and fitness; 2) determine if sex moderates associations; and 3) track PA and ST over 3 years. Methods: Findings are based on 649 children [baseline = 4.5 (0.5) y; follow-up = 7.8 (0.6) y] from Edmonton, Canada. Parental-reported hour per week of PA and ST were measured at baseline and 3 years later. Fitness (vertical jump, sit and reach, waist circumference, grip strength, predicted VO2max, push-ups, and partial curl-ups) was measured using established protocols at follow-up. Sex-specific z scores or low/high fitness groups were calculated. Linear or logistic multiple regression models and Spearman correlations were conducted. Results: Baseline ST was negatively associated with follow-up grip strength [β = −0.010; 95% confidence interval (CI), −0.019 to −0.001]. Associations between baseline PA and follow-up overall fitness (β = 0.009; 95% CI, 0.002 to 0.016) were significant, whereas baseline PA and follow-up VO2max (β = 0.014; 95% CI, 0.000 to 0.027) approached significance (P < .06). No sex interactions were observed. Moderate and large tracking were observed for PA (r s = .30) and ST (r s = .53), respectively. Conclusions: PA and ST may be important modifiable correlates of overall fitness in young children.