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Aviva Must, Sarah Phillips, Carol Curtin and Linda G. Bandini

Background:

Individual, social, and community barriers to physical activity (PA) experienced by children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) make PA participation more difficult and may contribute to increased screen time.

Methods:

We compared the prevalence of parent-reported barriers to PA among 58 typically developing (TD) children and 53 children with an ASD, 3 to 11 years, and assessed the association between barriers and PA participation and screen time among children with ASD.

Results:

Parents of children with ASD reported significantly more barriers than parents of TD children. Based on parent-report, 60% of children with ASD required too much supervision compared with no TD children (P < .001). Parents of children with ASD were more likely to report that adults lack skills needed to include their child (58%), that their child has few friends (45%), and that other children exclude their child (23%). The number of parent-reported barriers to PA was inversely correlated with the hours spent in PA per year (r = −0.27, P = .05) and positively related to total screen time (r = .32, P < .03).

Conclusions:

These findings underscore the need for community-based PA programs designed to meet the special requirements of this population and policies that compel schools and other government-supported organizations for inclusion and/or targeted programming.

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Charles J. Dillman, Phillip J. Cheetham and Sarah L. Smith

The purpose of this project is to describe the procedures used in acquiring data on the Men's Olympic Long Horse Vaulting Competition. A descriptive biomechanical analysis is provided of the filmed performances of the eight male finalists in this event. All of the performed vaults are grouped into the following two vault families: Handspring Front Somersault and Tsukahara. Comprehensive kinematic descriptions are presented for these two vault families.

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Heidi Stanish, Carol Curtin, Aviva Must, Sarah Phillips, Melissa Maslin and Linda Bandini

The authors compared physical activity enjoyment, perceived barriers, beliefs, and self-efficacy between adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and typically developing (TD) adolescents. A questionnaire was verbally administered to 35 adolescents with ASD and 60 TD adolescents. Compared with TD adolescents, fewer adolescents with ASD enjoyed team sports (65% vs. 95%, p < .001) and physical education (84% vs. 98%, p = .02). A greater proportion of adolescents with ASD perceived that physical activities were too hard to learn (16% vs. 0%, p < .01), and fewer believed that physical activity was a way to make friends (68% vs. 97%, p < .001). Fewer adolescents with ASD preferred to do physical activity in their free time (25% vs. 58%, p < .01). Most adolescents with ASD felt that physical activity is fun (84%), but the proportion was lower than in TD adolescents (98%, p = .03). Some perceptions about physical activity were similar between the 2 groups, but differences identified may inform program development.

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Heidi I. Stanish, Carol Curtin, Aviva Must, Sarah Phillips, Melissa Maslin and Linda G. Bandini

Background:

Youths with intellectual disabilities (ID) exhibit low levels of physical activity, but the underlying contributors to behavior are unclear. We compared physical activity enjoyment, perceived barriers, beliefs, and self-efficacy among adolescents with ID and typically developing (TD) adolescents.

Methods:

A questionnaire was administered to 38 adolescents with ID (mean age, 16.8 years) and 60 TD adolescents (mean age, 15.3 years). Of the original 33 questionnaire items, 23 met the test-retest reliability criteria and were included in the group comparisons.

Results:

Fewer adolescents with ID reported that they have someone with whom to do physical activity (64% vs 93%: P < .001), and a greater percentage of adolescents with ID perceived that physical activities were too hard to learn (41% vs 0%; P < .001). Fewer adolescents with ID believed that physical activity would be good for their health (92% vs 100%; P = .05). More adolescents with ID reported a dislike of individual physical activities (P = .02). A large percentage of adolescents with ID (84%) responded that they were good at doing physical activities, but the difference between groups was only of borderline significance (95% of TD adolescents, P = .06).

Conclusions:

Adolescents shared many of the same perceptions about physical activity, but some important differences between groups were identified.

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Diane Austrin Klein, William J. Stone, Wayne T. Phillips, Jaime Gangi and Sarah Hartman

The impact of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) on physical function in assisted-living older adults (73-94 years old) was studied. A 5-week pretraining period consisting of weekly visits by trainers to participants preceded a 10-week training period of warm-up, PNF exercises, and cool-down. Training progressed from 1 set of 3 repetitions to 3 sets of 3 repetitions. Assessments were conducted at baseline (T1), postpretraining (T2), and posttraining (T3). Eleven of 14 volunteer participants completed the study. Physical function was assessed by range of motion (ROM), isometric strength, and balance and mobility measures. Repeated-measures ANOVA identified 6 measures (sit-to-stand, shoulder- and ankle-flexion ROM, and hip-extension, ankle-flexion, and ankle-extension strength) with statistically significant differences. With the exception of hip-extension strength, these measures were statistically significant from T2 to T3 in post hoc univariate tests. Results indicate that PNF flexibility training can improve ROM, isometric strength, and selected physical-function tasks in assisted-living older adults.

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Sarah G. McCallister, Elaine M. Blinde and Jessie M. Phillips

Given the changing roles of women and the increasing involvement of girls and women in sport and physical activity during the last quarter of the 20th century, traditional gender belief systems about women’s assumed physical weakness and incompetence have been challenged. Belief systems are internalized at a young age and influence future choices and behavior. Therefore, the current study was an exploration of the perceptions and attitudes of young girls at the end of the 20th century. This examination is an attempt to provide an indication of the prospects for greater involvement of girls and women in sport and physical activity in the new millennium. Forty-six fourth and fifth grade girls were interviewed to explore perceptions and attitudes related to sport and physical activity. In particular, we examined (a) perceptions of the capabilities of boys and girls, (b) interactions with boys in sport and physical activity, and (c) internalized messages about sport and physical activity. Participants generally (a) perceived boys as possessing superior sport skills and physical attributes, (b) felt girls and boys played differently, (c) believed that boys held negative views of the physical ability of girls, (d) associated an athlete with being male, and (e) internalized negative societal messages about girls in sport. Despite the optimism surrounding girls’ and women’s increased participation, the attitudes and perceptions of the respondents suggested that many traditional beliefs about sport and physical activity remain.

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Maureen R. Weiss, Lindsay E. Kipp, Alison Phillips Reichter, Sarah M. Espinoza and Nicole D. Bolter

Purpose: Girls on the Run is an after-school physical activity-based positive youth development program designed to enhance girls’ social, psychological, and physical development. We evaluated the effectiveness of the program by employing a longitudinal design and mixed methods. Methods: Girls (N = 203; aged 8–11 y) completed survey measures of positive youth development constructs (competence, confidence, connection, character, and caring), physical activity, and sedentary behavior prior to, at the end of, and 3 months after the season. Subsamples of girls, coaches, caregivers, and school personnel participated in focus groups. Coaches completed information about their team’s community impact project and number of girls who completed the season-ending 5k. Results: The full sample improved in confidence and connection, whereas girls who started below the preseason average showed the greatest gains from preseason to postseason on all measures, and scores were maintained or continued to improve at follow-up. All stakeholders in focus groups corroborated evidence of season-long improvement in social and emotional behaviors and health outcomes. Involvement in the community impact project contributed to girls’ growth in character and empathy skills. Conclusion: Findings provide empirical evidence that Girls on the Run is effective in promoting positive youth development, including season-long and lasting change in competence, confidence, connection, character, caring, and physical activity, especially among girls who exhibited lower preseason scores than their peers.