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Karen E. Hancock, Paul Downward, and Lauren B. Sherar

Momentary feelings of pleasure and purpose can be sources of intrinsic motivation, but momentary purpose is rarely studied. Activities, contexts, and feelings of retired/semiretired adults (n = 67, aged 50–78 years) were captured using ecological momentary assessment. Participants provided 2,065 valid responses to six daily smartphone surveys for 7 days. Physical activity was measured by waist-worn ActiGraph accelerometer. Pleasure (measured by affective happiness) and purpose outcomes were regressed on activities, context, and potential confounding variables. Interactions between activities and contexts were explored. Participants were highly active: 98.5% met physical activity guidelines. Sedentary activities were negatively associated with sense of purpose, especially when indoors. However, social sedentary activities were positively associated with feelings of happiness. Active, social outdoor activities were positively associated with both outcomes. Less sedentary participants experienced greater happiness and purpose during all their activities. Context matters: active, social, and outdoor activities seem to be more appealing to older adults.

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Adam D. G. Baxter-Jones, Joey C. Eisenmann, and Lauren B. Sherar

The process of maturation is continuous throughout childhood and adolescence. In a biological context, the effects of a child’s maturation might mask or be greater than the effects associated with exposure to exercise. Pediatric exercise scientists must therefore include an assessment of biological age in study designs so that the confounding effects of maturation can be controlled for. In order to understand how maturation can be assessed, it is important to appreciate that 1 year of chronological time is not equivalent to 1 year of biological time. Sex- and age-associated variations in the timing and tempo of biological maturation have long been recognized. This paper reviews some of the possible biological maturity indicators that the pediatric exercise scientist can use. As a result, we recommend that any of the methods discussed could be used for gender-specific comparisons. Gender-comparison studies should either use skeletal age or some form of somatic index.

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Lauren B. Sherar, Sean P. Cumming, Joey C. Eisenmann, Adam D.G. Baxter-Jones, and Robert M. Malina

The decline in physical activity (PA) across adolescence is well established but influence of biological maturity on the process has been largely overlooked. This paper reviews the limited number of studies which examine the relationship between timing of biological maturity and PA. Results are generally inconsistent among studies. Other health-related behaviors are also considered in an effort to highlight the complexity of relationships between biological maturation and behavior and to provide future research directions.

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Joan E. Hunter Smart, Sean P. Cumming, Lauren B. Sherar, Martyn Standage, Helen Neville, and Robert M. Malina

Background:

This study tested a mediated effects model of psychological and behavioral adaptation to puberty within the context of physical activity (PA).

Methods:

Biological maturity status, physical self-concept, PA, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) were assessed in 222 female British year 7 to 9 pupils (mean age = 12.7 years, SD = .8).

Results:

Structural equation modeling using maximum likelihood estimation and bootstrapping procedures supported the hypothesized model. Maturation status was inversely related to perceptions of sport competence, body attractiveness, and physical condition; and indirectly and inversely related to physical self-worth, PA, and HRQoL. Examination of the bootstrap-generated bias-corrected confidence intervals representing the direct and indirect paths between suggested that physical self-concept partially mediated the relations between maturity status and PA, and maturity status and HRQoL.

Conclusions:

Evidence supports the contention that perceptions of the physical self partially mediate relations maturity, PA, and HRQoL in adolescent females.

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Anna E. Chalkley, Ash C. Routen, Jo P. Harris, Lorraine A. Cale, Trish Gorely, and Lauren B. Sherar

Introduction: School-based running programs that promote daily (or regular) walking/jogging/running are an emerging public health initiative. However, evaluation of these programs has predominantly used quantitative measures that limit understanding and explanations of contextual influences on pupil participation. Therefore, the aim of this study was to qualitatively explore pupils’ experiences of participating in a primary-school-based running program (Marathon Kids) to provide relevant insights and inform program developments. Methods: Nine semistructured focus groups were conducted with a purposeful sample of 50 pupils (26 girls and 24 boys) between 6 and 10 years of age from 5 primary schools in England. All schools had delivered the running program for 5–9 months during the 2015–16 academic year. Transcripts were analyzed using an inductive thematic approach. Results: Pupils identified a range of organizational, interpersonal, and intrapersonal factors that they believed influenced their participation in the program. Six themes were identified as being important to pupils’ experiences: Marathon Kids as an enabling program, pupils’ autonomy to participate, peer influence on participation (e.g., development of social cohesion), teacher influence on delivery (e.g., fidelity of implementation), logistics and suitability of the school environment, and appropriateness of program resources. Conclusions: School-based running programs can offer an enjoyable physical activity experience for children; however, it is important to understand how current delivery approaches influence pupils’ participation. Aspects that were believed to facilitate enjoyment included pupil autonomy to participate, perceived benefits of participation (including psychosocial outcomes), and a supportive school environment. Further research is required to identify the type and level of support required by schools to sustain pupil participation in running programs so that their perceived value is maintained.

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Aristides M. Machado Rodrigues, Manuel J. Coelho e Silva, Jorge Mota, Sean P. Cumming, Lauren B. Sherar, Helen Neville, and Robert M. Malina

Sex differences in physical activity (PA) through pubertal maturation and the growth spurt are often attributed to changing interests. The contribution of sex differences in biological maturation to the adolescent decline has received limited attention. This study examined the contribution of somatic maturation to sex differences in objective assessments of sedentary behavior and PA in Portuguese adolescents (N = 302, aged 13–16 years). Maturation was estimated from the percentage of predicted mature stature and physically active and inactive behaviors assessed with Actigraph GT1M accelerometers. The influence of age, sex and their interaction on body size, maturation and physical behaviors were examined using factorial ANOVA and, subsequently, ANCOVA (controlling for maturation) tested the effect of sex. Males spent more time in MVPA and less time in sedentary behavior than females. However, sex differences were attenuated when maturation was controlled; thus suggesting that maturity may play an important role in adolescent behaviors.