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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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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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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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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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Chad S.G. Witcher, Nicholas L. Holt, John C. Spence and Sandra O’Brien Cousins

The purpose of this study was to assess rural older adults’ perceptions of leisure-time physical activity and examine these perceptions from a historical perspective. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 10 inhabitants (mean age 82 years) of Fogo Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and subjected to inductive analysis. Member-checking interviews were conducted with 5 participants. Findings indicated that beginning in childhood, participants were socialized into a subculture of work activity. As a result of these historical and social forces, leisure-time physical activity did not form part of the participants’ lives after retirement. Strategies for successful aging involved keeping busy, but this “busyness” did not include leisure-time physical activity. Results demonstrated the importance of developing a broader understanding of how past and present-day contexts can influence participation in leisure-time physical activity.

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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 (rs = .30) and ST (rs = .53), respectively. Conclusions: PA and ST may be important modifiable correlates of overall fitness in young children.

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Stephen Hunter, Andrei Rosu, Kylie D. Hesketh, Ryan E. Rhodes, Christina M. Rinaldi, Wendy Rodgers, John C. Spence and Valerie Carson

Purpose: Examine objectively measured environmental correlates of physical activity and sedentary behavior in toddlers (12–35 mo). Methods: Participants were recruited at immunization appointments in Edmonton, Canada. Physical activity and sedentary time were objectively measured via accelerometers (n = 149). The parents reported screen time and demographic characteristics via a questionnaire (n = 249). Postal codes were used to link neighborhood data via geographic information systems. Neighborhood data included 4 environmental domains: functional (ie, walkability), safety (ie, crime), esthetic (ie, tree density), and destination (ie, cul-de-sac density, wooded area percentage, green space percentage, recreation density, park density). Weather data (temperature and precipitation) were obtained via historical weather records. Multilevel multiple linear regression models were used to account for clustering of participants within neighborhoods and adjustment of demographic variables. Results: Each additional 10°C of mean temperature was significantly associated with 5.74 (95% confidence interval, 0.96–10.50) minutes per day of higher light-intensity physical activity, though the effect size was small (f 2 = 0.08). No other significant associations were observed. Conclusions: The lack of significant findings for neighborhood environment factors suggests proximal factors (eg, features of the home environment) may be more important in predicting toddlers’ physical activity and sedentary behavior. More indoor physical activity opportunities may be needed on colder days for toddlers.