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Nicola D. Ridgers and Gareth Stratton

Recess offers primary school age children the opportunity to engage in physical activity, though few studies have detailed the physical activity levels of children in this environment. The physical activity levels of 270 children ages 6-11 years from 18 schools were monitored on 1 school day using heart rate telemetry. Data revealed that boys engaged in higher levels of moderate-to-vigorous and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) than did girls during recess (26 and 20 min, respectively). These results suggest that recess can make a worthwhile contribution to the recommended 60 min of MVPA per day.

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Kelly A. Mackintosh, Kate Ridley, Gareth Stratton and Nicola D. Ridgers

Objective:

This study sought to ascertain the energy expenditure (EE) associated with different sedentary and physically active free-play activities in primary school-aged children.

Methods:

Twenty-eight children (13 boys; 11.4 ± 0.3 years; 1.45 ± 0.09 m; 20.0 ± 4.7 kg·m-2) from 1 primary school in Northwest England engaged in 6 activities representative of children’s play for 10 minutes (drawing, watching a DVD, playground games and free-choice) and 5 minutes (self-paced walking and jogging), with 5 minutes rest between each activity. Gas exchange variables were measured throughout. Resting energy expenditure was measured during 15 minutes of supine rest.

Results:

Child (Schofield-predicted) MET values for watching a DVD, self-paced jogging and playing reaction ball were significantly higher for girls (P < .05).

Conclusions:

Utilizing a field-based protocol to examine children’s free-living behaviors, these data contribute to the scarcity of information concerning children’s EE during play to update the Compendium of Energy Expenditures for Youth.

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Stuart J. Fairclough, Nicola D. Ridgers and Gregory Welk

Background:

Vigorous-intensity physical activity (VPA) may confer superior health benefits for children compared to moderate-intensity physical activity (MPA), but the correlates of MPA and VPA may differ. The study purpose was to investigate associations between selected enabling, predisposing, and demographic physical activity correlates, and MPA and VPA during weekdays and at weekends.

Methods:

Data were gathered from 175 children (aged 10 to 11 years). MPA and VPA were assessed using accelerometers. Correlates were measured at child and school levels. Multilevel analyses identified correlates that significantly predicted MPA and VPA.

Results:

Gender significantly predicted weekday MPA (P < .001), and weekend MPA (P = .022) and VPA (P = .035). Weekday VPA was predicted by gender (P < .001), indices of multiple deprivation score (P < .003), BMI (P = .018), and school playground area (P = .046).

Conclusions:

Gender was the most significant correlate of MPA and VPA. Children most likely to engage in weekday VPA were boys with lower deprivation scores and BMI values, with access to larger playground areas.

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Nicola D. Ridgers, Gareth Stratton and Thomas L. McKenzie

Background:

Children frequently engage in diverse activities that are broadly defined as play, but little research has documented children’s activity levels during play and how they are influenced by social contexts. Assessing potentially modifiable conditions that influence play behavior is needed to design optimal physical activity interventions.

Methods:

System for Observing Children’s Activity and Relationships during Play (SOCARP) was developed to simultaneously assess children’s physical activity, social group sizes, activity type, and social behavior during play. One hundred and fourteen children (48 boys, 66 girls; 42% overweight) from 8 elementary schools were observed during recess over 24 days, with 12 days videotaped for reliability purposes. Ninety-nine children wore a uni-axial accelerometer during their observation period.

Results:

Estimated energy expenditure rates from SOCARP observations and mean accelerometer counts were significantly correlated (r = .67; P < .01), and interobserver reliabilities (ie, percentage agreement) for activity level (89%), group size (88%), activity type (90%) and interactions (88%) met acceptable criteria. Both physical activity and social interactions were influenced by group size, activity type, and child gender and body weight status.

Conclusions:

SOCARP is a valid and reliable observation system for assessing physical activity and play behavior in a recess context.

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Nicola D. Ridgers, Stuart J. Fairclough and Gareth Stratton

Background:

Recess is an opportunity for children to engage in daily physical activity. The aim of this study was to investigate the 12-month effects of a playground intervention on children’s moderate-to-vigorous (MVPA) and vigorous physical activity (VPA) during morning and lunchtime recess.

Methods:

Four hundred and seventy children (232 boys, 238 girls) from 26 elementary schools participated in the study. Fifteen schools redesigned the playground environment using playground markings and physical structures. Eleven schools served as socioeconomic matched controls. Physical activity levels were quantified using heart rate and accelerometry at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months post-intervention. A 3-level (time, pupil, and school) multilevel analysis was used to determine the effects of the intervention across time on MVPA and VPA.

Results:

Positive yet nonsignificant intervention effects were found for MVPA and VPA during morning and lunchtime recess. Intervention children were more active during recess than control children. Interactions revealed that the intervention effect was stronger at 6 months than 12 months post-intervention.

Conclusions:

A playground markings and physical structures intervention had a positive effect on intervention children’s morning and lunchtime MVPA and VPA when assessed using heart rate and accelerometry, but this effect is strongest 6-months post-intervention and decreased between 6 months and 12 months.

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Stuart J. Fairclough, Lynne M. Boddy, Nicola D. Ridgers and Gareth Stratton

The study examined associations between children’s weight status, physical activity intensity, and physical self-perceptions. Data were obtained from 409 children (224 girls) aged 10–11 years categorized as normal-weight or overweight/obese. Physical activity was assessed using accelerometry, and children completed the Physical Self-Perception Profile. After controlling for the effects of age, maturation, and socioeconomic status vigorous physical activity was significantly associated with normal-weight status among boys (OR = 1.13, p = .01) and girls (OR = 1.13, p = .03). Normal-weight status was significantly associated with perceived Physical Condition (Boys: OR = 5.05, p = .008; Girls: OR = 2.50, p = .08), and Body Attractiveness (Boys: OR = 4.44, p = .007; Girls: OR = 2.56, p = .02). Weight status of 10–11 year old children was significantly associated with time spent in vigorous physical activity and self-perceptions of Body Attractiveness and Physical Condition.

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Nicola D. Ridgers, Karen E. Lamb, Anna Timperio, Helen Brown and Jo Salmon

Background: Little is known about whether physical activity compensation occurs. This study experimentally explored the activitystat hypothesis by investigating children’s short-term responses to imposed or restricted physical activity. Methods: A total of 156 children (46 boys; mean age = 11.3 y) from 9 schools wore an ActiGraph accelerometer for 5 days (Monday–Friday) across 2 consecutive weeks. In addition, 145 children (49% boys) simultaneously wore a SenseWear Armband. Schools were randomized to participate in 1 of the 3 experimental conditions that took place on 1 occasion: additional moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (3 schools), additional light-intensity physical activity (3 schools), or restriction of light-intensity physical activity and moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (3 schools). Multilevel linear regression models were conducted to examine associations between the day the condition took place and the following day and week (baseline and experiment) for each condition. Results: There was no evidence of a difference between children’s activity levels on the day after the experiment condition compared with their usual activity for that day. Conclusion: The findings suggest that children do not compensate their sedentary time and/or physical activity levels following imposed or restricted physical activity in the short term.

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Lisa M. Barnett, David R. Lubans, Anna Timperio, Jo Salmon and Nicola D. Ridgers

This study aimed to examine the contribution of objective measures of physical fitness (musculoskeletal and cardiorespiratory), physical activity, and motor skill to motor perception. A total of 122 children (63 boys) aged 8–11 years were assessed. Independent t-tests assessed sex differences in all variables. Two linear mixed models adjusted for sex and age were performed with perceived object control and locomotor skills (Pictorial Scale of the Perceived Movement Skill Competence for Young Children) as outcomes. Aerobic (multi-stage fitness test) and muscular fitness (long jump, grip strength), moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (ActiGraph accelerometry), movement skill (Test of Gross Motor Development-2), age, and sex were predictors. Boys had higher object control skills (actual and perceived) and fitness. Age (decreasing) and long jump distance (positive) explained 16% of locomotor skill perception variance. Sex (boys) explained 13% of object control skill perception variance. Children’s skill self-perception may be influenced by fitness attributes as these are more evident to them. The fact that girls have lower actual object control competence and fitness than boys suggests girls may be an intervention target.

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Kelly A. Mackintosh, Nicola D. Ridgers, Rachel E. Evans and Melitta A. McNarry

Background: Regular physical activity (PA) is increasingly recognized as important in the care of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), but there is a dearth of evidence regarding physical activity levels or how these are accrued in those with CF. Methods: PA was measured by a hip-worn accelerometer for 7 consecutive days in 18 children [10 boys; 12.4 (2.8) y] with mild to moderate CF and 18 age- and sex-matched controls [10 boys; 12.5 (2.7) y]. Results: Both children with CF and healthy children demonstrated similar physical activity levels and patterns of accumulation across the intensity spectrum, with higher levels of PA during weekdays in both groups. Forced expiratory volume in 1 second was predicted by high light PA in children with CF compared with low light PA in healthy children. Conclusion: These findings highlight weekends and light PA as areas warranting further research for the development of effective intervention strategies to increase PA in the youth CF population.

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Toni A. Hilland, Nicola D. Ridgers, Gareth Stratton and Stuart J. Fairclough

The study investigated associations between selected physical activity correlates among 299 adolescents (90 boys, age 12–14 years) from 3 English schools. Physical activity was assessed by self-report and accelerometry. Correlates represented biological, predisposing, and demographic factors as described in the Youth Physical Activity Promotion Model. Boys engaged in more self-reported (p < .01) and accelerometer assessed physical activity than girls (p = .02). Positive associations between sex (male), BMI, Perceived PE Ability, Perceived PE Worth, number of enrolled students, and physical activity outcomes were evident (p < .05). School-based physical activity promotion should emphasize sex-specific enhancement of students’ perceived PE competence and enjoyment.