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Jeffrey Liew, Ping Xiang, Audrea Y. Johnson and Oi-Man Kwok

Background:

Schools often include running in their physical education and health curriculum to increase physical activity and reduce childhood overweight. But having students run around may not be enough to sustain physical activity habits if motivational factors are not well understood. This study examined effortful persistence as a predictor of running.

Methods:

Participants were 246 5th graders, and data on their demographic information, body mass index (BMI), effortful persistence, and time to complete a 1-mile run were collected across 4 years.

Results:

Between 5th to 8th grades, effortful persistence predicted time to complete a 1-mile run even when BMI was taken into account at every grade except for 7th grade. Rank-order stability was found in major variables across-time, but no across-time prediction was found for effortful persistence on a 1-mile run.

Conclusions:

Lack of longitudinal predictions bodes well for interventions aimed at increasing physical activity, because children or youth with high BMIs or low effortful persistence are not destined for future underachievement on physically challenging activities. Given the stability of variables, interventions that target fostering self-regulatory efficacy or effortful persistence may be particularly important for getting children on trajectories toward healthy and sustained levels of physical activity.

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Xuemei Zhu, Chanam Lee, Oi-Man Kwok and James W. Varni

Background:

A growing number of studies have examined correlates of walking-to/from-school behaviors. However, the potential differences across neighborhoods have been understudied. To address this knowledge gap, this study compared 4 elementary school settings (low-income inner-city; mid- to low-income, urban with and without freeway in attendance area; and high-income suburban) in Austin, Texas.

Methods:

Parental surveys (n = 680, response rate = 25%) were analyzed using binary logistic regressions to identify correlates of walking to/from school for each setting. Five focus groups were conducted with 15 parents and analyzed using content analysis to supplement the survey results.

Results:

Parents’ personal barrier was the only consistently significant variable across 4 settings (OR = 0.113−0.463, P < .05). Parental education showed contrasting results between the suburban setting (OR = 3.895, P < .01) and the urban setting with freeway presence (OR = 0.568, P < .05). Personal attitude and walking habit had lower explanatory power in lower-income settings than in the higher-income site. But sociodemographic, physical environment, and safety conditions had greater explanatory power in lower-income settings. Freeway barrier was significant in the inner-city setting (OR = 0.029, P < .05) and the urban setting with freeway presence (OR = 0.142, P < .05).

Conclusions:

Significant differences in correlates of walking-to/from-school behaviors were found across the 4 elementary school settings, suggesting the importance of context-sensitive approaches in future research and practice.