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Thomas L. McKenzie, James F. Sallis, and Philip R. Nader

This paper describes SOFIT (System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time), an observation instrument designed to assess variables associated with students’ activity levels and opportunities to become physically fit in physical education. SOFIT involves the direct observation of classes while simultaneously recording student physical activity levels, curriculum context variables, and teacher behavior. The paper reports the reliability, validity, and feasibility of using the instrument, as well as data from using SOFIT to assess 88 third- and fourth-grade classes.

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Mary C. Gillach, James F. Sallis, Michael J. Buono, Patricia Patterson, and Philip R. Nader

This study examined the relationship between heart rate (HR) as a measure of physiological strain and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) in 193 children (mean age = 11 yrs) and 188 adults (mean age = 36 yrs) during submaximal cycle ergometry. Two methods of correlating HR and RPE were compared. Computing correlations (r) for each individual’s data and then taking the group mean produced very high rs, ranging from 0.92 to 0.95. Correlating HR and RPE for the entire group at all powers simultaneously produced much lower rs, ranging from 0.63 to 0.65. Correlations were essentially the same for children and adults, and there was no evidence of a practice effect. The results indicated that (a) children in this age group were as capable of expressing RPE as adults, and (b) absolute levels of perceived exertion were not predictive of physiological strain (as indicated by heart rate).

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Ronald J. Iannotti, James F. Sallis, Rusan Chen, Shelia L. Broyles, John P. Elder, and Philip R. Nader


Longitudinal patterns in the development of physical activity (PA) and potential causal relationships between parent and child PA are examined.


Autoregressive models were used to examine bidirectional prospective paths between parent and child PA in a longitudinal sample of 351 Anglo and Mexican American families. PA was assessed independently in children and parents over a 13-y period.


There was little evidence for a causal path from mother PA to child PA.


Modeling does not appear to be the primary mechanism by which parents influence children’s PA behavior. Studies examining relations between parent and child behaviors should not rely on a single respondent for assessing both parent and child PA or on cross-sectional correlational data to make unidirectional causal inferences about determinants of child PA.

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Charles F. Morgan, Thomas L. McKenzie, James F. Sallis, Shelia L. Broyles, Michelle M. Zive, and Philip R. Nader

We examined associations of demographic/biological, psychological, social, and environmental variables with two different measures (self-reported and accelerometer) of physical activity (PA) in Mexican-American (56 boys; 64 girls) and European-American (49 boys; 45 girls) children (mean age = 12.1 years). Among 32 potential correlates, 4 gender and 16 ethnic differences were found. Percent of variance explained from 3% to 24% for self-reported PA and from 7% to 16% for accelerometer-measured PA. Physical self-perception was the only variable with a significant association across all subgroups and both measures. Less favorable levels of psychosocial variables among Mexican-Americans may explain ethnic differences in PA.

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James F. Sallis, Thomas L. McKenzie, John P. Elder, Patricia L. Hoy, Todd Galati, Charles C. Berry, Michelle M. Zive, and Philip R. Nader

Previous studies have not used both self-report and objective measures to assess sex and ethnic differences in children’s physical activity. In the present study, 187 Mexican American and Anglo American children, aged 11 to 12 years, were assessed by two 7-day physical activity recall interviews and up to 8 days of accelerometer (Caltrac) monitoring over a 6-month period. Compared to Anglo American boys, accelerometer data showed Mexican American boys, Anglo American girls, and Mexican American girls to be 95,81, and 75% as active, respectively. Activity recall data showed that, compared to Anglo American boys, Mexican American boys, Anglo American girls, and Mexican American girls were 95,95, and 90% as active, respectively. The extent of sex and ethnic differences in children’s physical activity depend on the measure used.