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Elaine M. Murtagh and Marie H. Murphy

The purpose of this study was to (1) determine the physical activity levels of 9–11 year old children, and (2) compare the activity levels of children who commute to school by active and passive modes. 140 children aged 9–11 years (85 boys) were recruited from four urban Irish schools. Mode of commuting was assessed by questionnaire. Step counts were measured for 4 consecutive days. Mean daily step counts for the sample were 14386 ± 5634. Boys were significantly more active than girls (15857 ± 5482 vs. 12113 ± 5127 steps). Eighty-seven children (62.1%) traveled by car, 51 children (36.4%) walked to school, one child traveled by bus and one child cycled. Children who walked or cycled to school had higher daily step counts than those who traveled by passive modes (16118 ± 5757 vs. 13363 ± 5332 steps). Active commuting to school may therefore represent a worthwhile strategy for improving children’s physical activity levels.

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Joseph J. Murphy, Ciaran MacDonncha, Marie H. Murphy, Niamh Murphy, Alan M. Nevill and Catherine B. Woods

Background: Although levels of physical activity (PA) have been researched, no information on how university students organize their PA across different life domains is available. The purpose of this study is to explore if and how students organize their PA across transport and recreational domains, and to identify the psychosocial factors related to these patterns. Methods: Students from 31 Irish universities completed a supervised online survey measuring participant characteristics, psychosocial factors, and PA. Two-step cluster analysis was used to identify specific PA patterns in students. Binary logistic regressions identified factors associated with cluster membership while controlling for age, sex, household income, and perceived travel time to a university. Results: Analysis was performed on 6951 students (50.7% male; 21.51 [5.55] y). One Low Active cluster emerged. Four clusters containing a form of PA emerged including Active Commuters, Active in University, Active Outside University, and High Active. Increases in motivation and planning improved the likelihood of students being categorized in a cluster containing PA. Conclusion: One size does not fit all when it comes to students PA engagement, with 5 patterns identified. Health professionals are advised to incorporate strategies for increasing students’ motivation, action planning, and coping planning into future PA promotion efforts.

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Alan Nevill, Paul Donnelly, Simon Shibli, Charlie Foster and Marie Murphy

Background:

The association between health and deprivation is of serious concern to many health promotion agencies. The purpose of the current study was to assess whether modifiable behaviors of physical activity (PA), sports participation, diet, smoking and body mass index (BMI) can help to explain these inequalities in a sample of 4653 respondents from Northern Ireland.

Methods:

The study is based on a cross-sectional survey of Northern Irish adults. Responses to a self-rated health question were dichotomized and binary logistic regression was used to identify the health inequalities between areas of high, middle or low deprivation. These differences were further adjusted for other sociodemographic factors and subsequently for various modifiable behaviors of PA, sports participation, diet, smoking, and BMI.

Results:

Respondents from high and middle areas of deprivation are more likely to report poorer health. As soon as sociodemographic factors and other modifiable behaviors were included, these inequalities either disappeared or were greatly reduced.

Conclusion:

Many inequalities in health in NI can be explained by the respondents’ sociodemographic characteristics that can be further explained by introducing information about respondents who meet the recommended PA guidelines, play sport, eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, and maintain an optimal BMI.

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Marie H. Murphy, Angela Carlin, Catherine Woods, Alan Nevill, Ciaran MacDonncha, Kyle Ferguson and Niamh Murphy

Background: Time spent in university represents a period of transition and may be an appropriate time to promote physical activity among young adults. The aim of this study was to assess participation of university students in sport and physical activity in Ireland and to explore the association between physical activity and perceptions of overall health, mental health, and happiness. Methods: The Student Activity and Sport Study Ireland was a cross-sectional online survey among a representative sample (n = 8122) of university students in Ireland. Binary logistic regressions were performed to examine associations between self-reported physical activity and gender (predictor variables) and individual perceptions of overall health, mental health, and happiness (binary outcomes). Results: Only 64.3% of respondents met the recommended level of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week with males significantly more active than females (72.1% vs 57.8% meeting guidelines). Those meeting physical activity guidelines were more likely to report greater overall health and higher mental health and happiness scores compared with their inactive peers. Conclusions: Active students enjoy better health (overall and mental) and are happier than their inactive peers. This provides a clear rationale for providing students with opportunities to be active at university. The data provide a baseline to monitor changes in physical activity patterns.

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David P. McKee, Colin A.G. Boreham, Marie H. Murphy and Alan M. Nevill

Activity measurement using a uniaxial pedometer was validated against behavioral observation using the Children’s Activity Rating Scale (CARS) in 30 three- to four-year-old children in a nursery school setting. Correlations were calculated for individual children, whereas the relationship for the total group was investigated using multilevel linear regression. The mean counts for boys and girls for the Digiwalker™ were 66.8 (± 64.0) and 47.4 (± 61.3; p < .01) steps per 3 minutes, respectively, whereas the mean CARS scores for boys and girls were 1.8 (± 0.6) and 1.6 (± 0.6; p < .01), respectively. Within-child correlations for CARS versus Digiwalker counts ranged from 0.64 to 0.95 with a median value of 0.86, whereas the multilevel analysis provided strong evidence of a relationship between CARS and Digiwalker (all p < .001). Data from the current study show that gender differences in physical levels exist in very young children and support the utility of the Digiwalker pedometer for assessing physical activity in this age group.

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Phillip M. Gray, Marie H. Murphy, Alison M. Gallagher and Ellen E. A. Simpson

This study explored motives and barriers to physical activity (PA) among older adults of differing socioeconomic status (SES) utilizing a self-determination theory and self-efficacy theory framework. Focus groups (n = 4) were conducted with older adults (n = 28) from two SES groups, using thematic analysis to identify motives and barriers. Integrated and identified regulations and, to a lesser extent, intrinsic motives, were evident across SES groups. Verbal persuasion and affective and physiological states emerged as prominent efficacy sources regardless of SES. More barriers were reported by the low SES group, with health conditions, neighborhood safety, and PA guidelines knowledge emerging as most salient. Time emerged as a prominent barrier for the high SES group. Integrated and identified regulations should be fostered in future interventions and policy regardless of SES. Barriers to PA varied across SES groups; thus future interventions and policy should account for such differences.

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Deirdre M. Harrington, Marie Murphy, Angela Carlin, Tara Coppinger, Alan Donnelly, Kieran P. Dowd, Teresa Keating, Niamh Murphy, Elaine Murtagh, Wesley O’Brien, Catherine Woods and Sarahjane Belton

Background:

Physical activity (PA) is a key performance indicator for policy documents in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Building on baseline grades set in 2014, Ireland’s second Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth allows for continued surveillance of indicators related to PA in children and youth.

Methods:

Data and information were extracted and collated for 10 indicators and graded using an international standardized grading system.

Results:

Overall, 7 grades stayed the same, 2 increased, and 1 decreased. Grades were assigned as follows: Overall PA, D (an increase); Sedentary Behavior (TV), C-; Physical Education, D-; Active Play, Incomplete/Inconclusive (INC); Active Transportation, D; School, D (a decrease); Home (Family), INC; Community and the Built Environment, B+ (an increase); and Government, INC. Unlike 2014’s report card, different grades for the Republic (C-) and Northern Ireland (C+) were assigned for Organized Sport Participation.

Conclusions:

Although the grade for Overall PA levels increased to a D, this may reflect the increased quality and quantity of data available. The double burden of low PA and high sedentary levels are concerning and underscore the need for advocacy toward, and surveillance of, progress in achieving targets set by the new National Physical Activity Plan in the Republic and obesity and sport plans in the North.

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Deirdre M. Harrington, Sarahjane Belton, Tara Coppinger, Muireann Cullen, Alan Donnelly, Kieran Dowd, Teresa Keating, Richard Layte, Marie Murphy, Niamh Murphy, Elaine Murtagh and Catherine Woods

Background:

Physical activity (PA) levels are a key performance indicator for policy documents in Ireland. The first Ireland Report Card on Physical Activity in Children and Youth aims to set a robust baseline for future surveillance of indicators related to PA in children and youth.

Methods:

Data collected between 2003−2010 on more than 35,000 7- to 18-year-old children and youth were used and graded using a standardized grading system for 10 indicators.

Results:

Grades assigned for the indicators were as follows: overall physical activity levels, D-; sedentary behavior (TV viewing), C-; organized sport participation, C-: physical education, D-; active play, inconclusive (INC); active transportation, D; school, C-, community and the built environment, B; family, INC; and government, INC.

Conclusions:

PA recommendations exist in Ireland but this Report Card has shown that participation is still low. A number of promising policies, programs and services are in place but these require thorough evaluation and adequate resourcing. Agreement and implementation of a common framework for the systematic surveillance of indictors related to PA of children and youth is necessary to monitor change over time and ensure the impact of promising work is captured.

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Elaine M. Murtagh, Colin Boreham, Alan Nevill, Gareth Davison, Tom Trinick, Ellie Duly, Mawloud El-Agnaf and Marie H. Murphy

Background:

Markers of inflammation are emerging as novel indices of cardiovascular risk. These markers have been shown to alter acutely after intense exercise; however, the effects of more moderate intensity exercise in healthy individuals is not known. Walking forms a cornerstone of physical activity promotion, so the inflammatory response to this exercise merits investigation. This study evaluated the effects of a 45-min walk on C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin 6 (IL-6), in sedentary, overweight men.

Methods:

Fifteen men (49.7 ± 5.9 y) walked for 45 min at 60 to 70% of predicted maximum heart rate. Fasted blood samples were taken prior to and immediately 1 hr and 24 h post-walk.

Results:

IL-6 decreased from 1 h post-walk to 24 h post-walk (P < 0.01). No significant changes were observed in CRP.

Conclusions:

These findings suggest that 45 min walking at 60 to 70% HRmax-p causes a decrease in IL-6 24 h post-exercise, but does not evoke a significant response in CRP levels.

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Nicholas Gilson, Wendy J. Brown, Guy Faulkner, Jim McKenna, Marie Murphy, Andy Pringle, Karin Proper, Anna Puig-Ribera and Aphroditi Stathi

Background:

This paper aimed to use the Delphi technique to develop a consensus framework for a multinational, workplace walking intervention.

Methods:

Ideas were gathered and ranked from eight recognized and emerging experts in the fields of physical activity and health, from universities in Australia, Canada, England, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, and Spain. Members of the panel were asked to consider the key characteristics of a successful campus walking intervention. Consensus was reached by an inductive, content analytic approach, conducted through an anonymous, three-round, e-mail process.

Results:

The resulting framework consisted of three interlinking themes defined as “design, implementation, and evaluation.” Top-ranked subitems in these themes included the need to generate research capacity (design), to respond to group needs through different walking approaches (implementation), and to undertake physical activity assessment (evaluation). Themes were set within an underpinning domain, referred to as the “institution” and sites are currently engaging with subitems in this domain, to provide sustainable interventions that refect the practicalities of local contexts and needs.

Conclusions:

Findings provide a unique framework for designing, implementing, and evaluating walking projects in universities and highlight the value of adopting the Delphi technique for planning international, multisite health initiatives.