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Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Educational Outcomes Among Australian University Students: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Associations

Lena Babaeer, Michalis Stylianou, and Sjaan R. Gomersall

Background: This study aimed to examine cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between physical activity (PA), sedentary behavior (SB), and educational outcomes (EO) in first-year university students in Australia. Method: Participants (N = 80) engaged in 3 data collection points (semesters 1, 2, and 3) that included self-reported and device-based PA and SB, and objective EO measures. Cross-sectional associations were examined using linear and binary logistic regressions, and longitudinal associations were examined using generalized estimating equations. Result: Overall, results indicated some positive but weak cross-sectional associations between some device-based and self-reported measures of PA and EO outcomes when controlling for confounders. Self-reported SB was negatively associated with semester GPA at time point 3 after adjusting for confounders (β = −0.224; 95% confidence interval, −0.446 to −0.001; P < .05). No other significant cross-sectional or longitudinal associations were identified. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that SB may be a more important target healthy behavior than PA when aiming to influence EO, and that related interventions may be more appropriate in second rather than first-year university students. Further research is needed to better understand this relationship that uses larger sample sizes, follows students beyond first year, and includes measures that distinguish between leisure and educational screen time.

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Validity of a Self-Report Recall Tool for Estimating Sedentary Behavior in Adults

Sjaan R. Gomersall, Toby G. Pavey, Bronwyn K. Clark, Adib Jasman, and Wendy J. Brown


Sedentary behavior is continuing to emerge as an important target for health promotion. The purpose of this study was to determine the validity of a self-report use of time recall tool, the Multimedia Activity Recall for Children and Adults (MARCA) in estimating time spent sitting/lying, compared with a device-based measure.


Fifty-eight participants (48% female, [mean ± standard deviation] 28 ± 7.4 years of age, 23.9 ± 3.05 kg/m2) wore an activPAL device for 24-h and the following day completed the MARCA. Pearson correlation coefficients (r) were used to analyze convergent validity of the adult MARCA compared with activPAL estimates of total sitting/lying time. Agreement was examined using Bland-Altman plots.


According to activPAL estimates, participants spent 10.4 hr/day [standard deviation (SD) = 2.06] sitting or lying down while awake. The correlation between MARCA and activPAL estimates of total sit/lie time was r = .77 (95% confidence interval = 0.64–0.86; P < .001). Bland-Altman analyses revealed a mean bias of +0.59 hr/day with moderately wide limits of agreement (–2.35 hr to +3.53 hr/day).


This study found a moderate to strong agreement between the adult MARCA and the activPAL, suggesting that the MARCA is an appropriate tool for the measurement of time spent sitting or lying down in an adult population.

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Barriers to and Facilitators of Adherence to Prescribed Home Exercise in Older Adults at Risk of Falling in Singapore: A Qualitative Study

Bernadine Teng, Ingrid C.M. Rosbergen, Sjaan R. Gomersall, Anna Hatton, and Sandra G. Brauer

Adherence to prescribed exercise poses significant challenges for older adults despite proven benefits. The aim of this exploratory descriptive qualitative study was to explore the perceived barriers to and facilitators of prescribed home exercise adherence in community-dwelling adults 65 years and older. Three focus groups with 17 older adults (M age ± SD = 77 ± 5.12) living in Singapore were conducted. Inductive thematic analysis revealed that “the level of motivation” of individuals constantly influenced their exercise adherence (core theme). The level of motivation appeared to be a fluid concept and changed due to interactions with two subthemes: (a) individual factors (exercise needs to be tailored to the individual) and (b) environmental factors (i.e., support is essential). Hence, these factors must be considered when designing strategies to enhance exercise adherence in this vulnerable population. Strategies must be informed by the culturally unique context, in this case, a developed country with a multiethnic urban Asian population.

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Conceptualizing, Defining, and Measuring Before-School Physical Activity: A Review With Exploratory Analysis of Adolescent Data

James Woodforde, Sjaan Gomersall, Anna Timperio, Venurs Loh, Hannah Browning, Francisco Perales, Jo Salmon, and Michalis Stylianou

Physical activity (PA) among children and adolescents is often reported by time segments centered around the school day, including before school. However, there is no consistent approach to defining the before-school segment, to accurately capture PA levels and facilitate synthesis of results across studies. Therefore, this study aimed to (a) examine how studies with children and adolescents have defined the before-school segment, and (b) compare adolescents’ before-school PA using various segment definitions. We conducted a systematic search and review of literature from six databases, and subsequently analyzed accelerometer data from Australia (n = 472, mean age 14.9 years, 40% male), to compare PA across five before-school definitions. Our review found 69 studies reporting before-school PA, 59 of which used device-based measures. Definitions ranged widely, but justifications were rarely reported. Our empirical comparison of definitions resulted in a range of participants meeting wear time criteria (≥3 days at >50% of segment length) from the latest-starting definition (30 min prior to school; n = 443) to the earliest-starting definition (6:00 a.m.–school start; n = 155), implying that for many participants, accelerometer wear was low in the early hours due to sleep or noncompliance. Statistically significant differences in light and moderate-to-vigorous PA (mean minutes/school day, proportion of segment length, and proportion of wear time) were found between definitions, indicating that before-school PA could potentially be underestimated depending on definition choice. We recommend that future studies clearly report and justify segment definition, apply segment-specific wear time criteria, and collect wake time data to enable individualized segment start times and minimize risk of data misclassification.

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Validity of Two Wheelchair-Mounted Devices for Estimating Wheelchair Speed and Distance Traveled

Kati S. Karinharju, Sjaan R. Gomersall, Kelly M. Clanchy, Stewart G. Trost, Li T. Yeo, and Sean M. Tweedy

This study evaluated the validity of two wheelchair-mounted devices—the Cateye® and Wheeler—for monitoring wheelchair speed and distance traveled. Speed estimates were validated against a calibrated treadmill at speeds from 1.5 to 10 km/hr. Twenty-five wheelchair users completed a course of known distance comprising a sequence of everyday wheelchair activities. Speed estimate validity was very good (mean absolute percentage error ≤ 5%) for the Wheeleri at all speeds and for the Cateye at speeds >3 km/hr but not speeds <3 km/hr (mean absolute percentage error > 20%). Wheeleri distance estimates were good (mean absolute percentage error < 10%) for linear pushing activities and general maneuvering but poor for confined-space maneuvering. Cateye estimates were good for continuous linear propulsion but poor for discontinuous pushing and maneuvering (both general and confined space). Both devices provided valid estimates of speed and distance for typical wheelchair-based exercise activities. However, the Wheeleri provided more accurate estimates of speed and distance during typical everyday wheelchair activities.

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Does the Time-of-Day of Exercise Influence the Total Volume of Exercise? A Cross-Sectional Analysis of Objectively Monitored Physical Activity Among Active Individuals

Paige G. Brooker, Mary E. Jung, Dominic Kelly-Bowers, Veronica Morlotti, Sjaan R. Gomersall, Neil A. King, and Michael D. Leveritt

Background: To improve compliance and adherence to exercise, the concept of temporal consistency has been proposed. Before- and after-work are periods when most working adults may reasonably incorporate exercise into their schedule. However, it is unknown if there is an association between the time-of-day that exercise is performed and overall physical activity levels. Methods: Activity was assessed over 1 week in a sample of 69 active adults (n = 41 females; mean age = 34.9 [12.3] y). At the end of the study, participants completed an interviewer-assisted questionnaire detailing their motivation to exercise and their exercise time-of-day preferences. Results: Participants were classified as “temporally consistent” (n = 37) or “temporally inconsistent” (n = 32) exercisers based on their accelerometry data. The “temporally consistent” group was further analyzed to compare exercise volume between “morning-exercisers” (n = 16) and “evening-exercisers” (n = 21). “Morning-exercisers” performed a greater volume of exercise than “evening-exercisers” (419 [178] vs 330 [233] min by self-report; 368 [224] vs 325 [156] min actigraph-derived moderate to vigorous physical activity, respectively). Conclusions: Our findings suggest that active individuals use a mixture of temporal patterns to meet PA guidelines. Time-of-day of exercise should be reported in intervention studies so the relationship between exercise time-of-day, exercise behavior, and associated outcomes can be better understood.

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The Physical Activity Advice Continuum—A Guide for Physical Activity Promotion in Health Care

Nicole Freene, Stephen Barrett, Emily R. Cox, Jessica Hill, Roger Lay, Jessica Seymour, Kimberley Szeto, and Sjaan R. Gomersall

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Ten Research Priorities Related to Youth Sport, Physical Activity, and Health

Erin K. Howie, Justin M. Guagliano, Karen Milton, Stewart A. Vella, Sjaan R. Gomersall, Tracy L. Kolbe-Alexander, Justin Richards, and Russell R. Pate

Background: Sport has been identified as one of the 7 best investments for increasing physical activity levels across the life span. Several questions remain on how to effectively utilize youth sport as a strategy for increasing physical activity and improving health in youth. The purpose of this paper is to identify the main research priorities in the areas of youth sport and physical activity for health. Methods: An international expert panel was convened, selected to cover a wide spectrum of topics related to youth sport. The group developed a draft set of potential research priorities, and relevant research was scoped. Through an iterative process, the group reached consensus on the top 10 research priorities. Results: The 10 research priorities were identified related to sport participation rates, physical activity from sport, the contribution of sport to health, and the overall return on investment from youth sport. For each research priority, the current evidence is summarized, key research gaps are noted, and immediate research needs are suggested. Conclusion: The identified research priorities are intended to guide researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to increase the evidence base on which to base the design, delivery, and policies of youth sport programs to deliver health benefits.

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Results from Australia’s 2018 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth

Natasha Schranz, Vanessa Glennon, John Evans, Sjaan Gomersall, Louise Hardy, Kylie D. Hesketh, David Lubans, Nicola D. Ridgers, Leon Straker, Michalis Stylianou, Grant R. Tomkinson, Stewart Vella, Jenny Ziviani, and Tim Olds

Open access

Results From Australia’s 2016 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth

Natasha K. Schranz, Timothy Olds, Roslyn Boyd, John Evans, Sjaan R. Gomersall, Louise Hardy, Kylie Hesketh, David R. Lubans, Nicola D. Ridgers, Leon Straker, Stewart Vella, Jenny Ziviani, and Grant R. Tomkinson


Two years on from the inaugural Active Healthy Kids Australia (AHKA) Physical Activity Report Card, there has been little to no change with the majority of Australian children still insufficiently active.


The 2016 AHKA Report Card was developed using the best available national- and state-based physical activity data, which were evaluated by the AHKA Research Working Group using predetermined weighting criteria and benchmarks to assign letter grades to the 12 Report Card indicators.


In comparison with 2014, Overall Physical Activity Levels was again assigned a D- with Organized Sport and Physical Activity Participation increasing to a B (was B-) and Active Transport declining to a C- (was C). The settings and sources of influence again performed well (A- to a C+), however Government Strategies and Investments saw a decline (C+ to a D). The traits associated with physical activity were also graded poorly (C- to a D).


Australian youth are insufficiently active and engage in high levels of screen-based sedentary behaviors. While a range of support structures exist, Australia lacks an overarching National Physical Activity Plan that would unify the country and encourage the cultural shift needed to face the inactivity crisis head on.