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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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Martyn Standage, Lauren Sherar, Thomas Curran, Hannah J. Wilkie, Russell Jago, Adrian Davis and Charlie Foster

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Hannah Wilkie, Martyn Standage, Lauren Sherar, Sean Cumming, Caley Parnell, Adrian Davis, Charlie Foster and Russ Jago

Background:

Regular physical activity improves physical and mental health, yet children’s physical activity levels were low in England’s 2014 Report Card. Within this paper, we update the 2014 Report Card to assess current information for the 9 indicators of physical activity.

Methods:

A search for nationally representative data on 9 indicators of physical activity was conducted and the data were assessed by an expert panel. The panel assigned grades [ie, A, B, C, D, F, or INC (incomplete)] to each indicator based on whether children across England were achieving specific benchmarks. The 2016 Report Card was produced and disseminated.

Results:

The following grades were awarded: Overall Physical Activity Levels: D-; Organized Sport Participation: D; Active Play: INC; Active Transportation: C-; Sedentary Behaviors: INC; Family and Peers: INC; School: B+; Community and the Built Environment: B; Government Strategies and Investment: INC.

Conclusions:

The grades have not improved since the 2014 Report Card and several gaps in the literature are still present. While children’s physical activity levels remain low alongside competing sedentary choices, further national plans and investment with local actions are urgently needed to promote physical activity especially via active play, active transport, and family support.

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Emily Knox, Stuart Biddle, Dale W. Esliger, Joe Piggin and Lauren Sherar

Background:

Mass media campaigns are an important tool for promoting health-related physical activity. The relevance of sedentary behavior to public health has propelled it to feature prominently in health campaigns across the world. This study explored the use of messages regarding sedentary behavior in health campaigns within the context of current debates surrounding the association between sedentary behavior and health, and messaging strategies to promote moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA).

Methods:

A web-based search of major campaigns in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, and Australia was performed to identify the main campaign from each country. A directed content analysis was then conducted to analyze the inclusion of messages regarding sedentary behavior in health campaigns and to elucidate key themes. Important areas for future research were illustrated.

Results:

Four key themes from the campaigns emerged: clinging to sedentary behavior guidelines, advocating reducing sedentary behavior as a first step on the activity continuum and the importance of light activity, confusing the promotion of MVPA, and the demonization of sedentary behavior.

Conclusions:

Strategies for managing sedentary behavior as an additional complicating factor in health promotion are urgently required. Lessons learned from previous health communication campaigns should stimulate research to inform future messaging strategies.

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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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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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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.

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João Valente-dos-Santos, Manuel J. Coelho-e-Silva, Filipe Simões, Antonio J. Figueiredo, Neiva Leite, Marije T. Elferink-Gemser, Robert M. Malina and Lauren Sherar

This study evaluates the contributions of age, growth, skeletal maturation, playing position and training to longitudinal changes in functional and skill performance in male youth soccer. Players were annually followed over 5 years (n = 83, 4.4 measurements per player). Composite scores for functional and skill domains were calculated to provide an overall estimate of performance. Players were also classified by maturity status and playing position at baseline. After testing for multicollinearity, two-level multilevel (longitudinal) regression models were obtained for functional and skill composite scores. The scores improved with age and training. Body mass was an additional predictor in both models [functional (late maturing): 13.48 + 1.05 × centered on chronological age (CA)—0.01 × centered CA2—0.19 × fat mass (FM) + 0.004 × annual volume training—1.04 × dribbling speed; skills (defenders): 7.62 + 0.62 × centered CA—0.06 × centered CA2 + 0.04 × fat-free mass—0.03 × FM + 0.005 × annual volume training—0.19 × repeated-sprint ability + 0.02 × aerobic endurance]. Skeletal maturity status was a significant predictor of functional capacities and playing position of skill performance. Sound accuracy of each multilevel model was demonstrated on an independent cross-sectional sample (n = 52).