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Stuart J. Fairclough

This study assessed the physical activity levels of 20 high school girls (age 13 years, SD = 1.1) during physical education classes, over an 8-month period. Physical activity was measured by heart rate telemetry and accelerometry. Skinfold measurements were used to estimate percent body fat, and peak VO2 was assessed by maximal treadmill running. Girls engaged in moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) for 38.5% of class time and produced 961.8 vector magnitude (Vmag) counts · min−1. Body fat was inversely correlated with Vmag counts · min−1 (r = −.65, p < .01) and peak VO2 (r = −.65, p < .01). Girls’ MVPA in physical education did not meet the Healthy People 2010 50% of class time criterion. Body fat significantly predicted 42% of the variance in Vmag counts · min−1. Cardiorespiratory fitness appeared not to influence physical activity during physical education, regardless of measurement method. Girls’ physical activity in physical education may be improved if schools advocate planned lesson outcomes that aim to maximize opportunities for physical activity.

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Stuart Fairclough and Gareth Stratton

Forty studies reporting physical activity during middle and high school physical education (PE) classes were reviewed. Students engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) for 27% to 47% of class time. Intervention strategies were successful in increasing MVPA. During nonintervention classes the highest levels of MVPA occurred in invasion games and fitness activities. Movement activities stimulated the lowest levels. Boys and girls spent 40% of class time in MVPA. Differences in MVPA during PE were also methodology dependent. PE classes can complement other school-based opportunities to contribute to young people’s daily physical activity.

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Stuart Fairclough and Gareth Stratton

This study investigated the enjoyment and perceived competence of normal-weight (n = 48) and overweight (n = 20) adolescents during physical education (PE) classes. Amount of PE time spent in moderate-to-vigorous (MVPA) and vigorous physical activity (VPA), as well as cardiorespiratory fitness (graded treadmill test) and body composition (body mass index) were also compared. Normal-weight students reported the greatest values for enjoyment (p = .008) and perceived competence (p = .005), though no differences in MVPA and VPA were observed. Cardiorespiratory fitness was highest among normal-weight students (p < .0001). In comparison with normal-weight adolescents, overweight youth might not be provided with optimal psychological experiences during PE classes.

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Stuart J. Fairclough and Gareth Stratton

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Simon J. Roberts and Stuart J. Fairclough

The common practice of annually age grouping children in education, likely done under the assumption of similarly aged children sharing similar abilities and learner characteristics, may actually undermine equity and fairness in student assessments. This strategy has received criticism for (dis) advantaging those older children born closer to the “cut off” date for entry into an academic year and for promoting the existence of relative age effects (RAEs). This paper explores the possibility that RAEs may be prevalent in the end-of-year attainment levels of junior high school physical education (PE) students. The PE end-of-year attainment scores were collected from 582 students in grades 7, 8 and 9 (aged 11–14 years) in the United Kingdom (UK). The results from a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) indicated a significant main effect for month of birth (p = .001) and gender (p = .001). Follow up interviews with heads of PE (HoPE) revealed a lack of awareness of RAEs and inconsiderate assessment strategies, which deviated from the requirements of the formal curriculum. The implications of RAEs in school PE assessment and possible recommendations are discussed.

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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, 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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Zoe Butcher, Stuart Fairclough, Gareth Stratton and David Richardson

This study examined whether feedback or feedback plus physical activity information could increase the number of pedometer steps taken during 1 school week. One hundred seventy-seven students (mean age 9.124 ± 1.11 years) in three elementary schools participated. Schools were randomly assigned to control (CON), feedback (FB), or feedback plus information (FB+I) groups. Children wore pedometers during school time for 5 consecutive weekdays. The total steps of the groups were recorded at the end of each school day, with students in the FB and FB+I groups free to view their step counts. In addition, the FB+I group received information and ideas about how they could increase their daily steps. The CON group received no step-count feedback or information. Students in the FB+I group achieved significantly more steps per minute (17.17 ± 4.87) than those in the FB (13.77 ± 4.06, p = 0.003) and CON (12.41 ± 3.12, p = 0.0001) groups. Information, as well as step-count feedback, increased elementary students’ school-based physical activity (number of steps) in the short term. A longer intervention period is necessary to assess the sustained impact of this type of approach.

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Samantha J. Downs, Stuart J. Fairclough, Zoe R. Knowles and Lynne M. Boddy

The aim of this study was to assess the physical activity (PA) patterns of youth with intellectual disabilities (ID). PA was monitored for 7 days in 70 participants, 5–15 years old, using accelerometers. There were 32 participants included in the final analysis. Habitual PA and the number of continuous bouts accrued for a range of bout lengths (5–600 s) for light (LPA), moderate (MPA), and vigorous (VPA) PA were calculated. Multivariate analysis of covariance was used to assess differences in the number of continuous bouts by sex, age, and ID group and between week and weekend days. Participants exhibited short sporadic bursts of activity. The number of continuous bouts decreased as the intensity and duration increased. Few differences in PA patterns were reported by sex, ID group, and age group and between week and weekend days, possibly due to the generally low PA levels in this population.

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Mareesa O’Dwyer, Stuart J. Fairclough, Nicola Diane Ridgers, Zoe Rebecca Knowles, Lawrence Foweather and Gareth Stratton

Background:

Identifying periods of the day which are susceptible to varying levels of physical activity (PA) may help identify key times to intervene and potentially change preschool children’s PA behaviors. This study assessed variability of objectively measured moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during weekdays and weekend days among preschool children.

Methods:

One hundred and eighty-eight children (aged 3 to 5 years; 53.2% boys) from a northwest English city wore uni-axial accelerometers for 7 consecutive days.

Results:

Higher levels of MVPA were recorded in boys, particularly those who attended preschool for a half day. Children who attended preschool for a full day engaged in 11.1 minutes less MVPA than children who attended for a half day. After-school hours were characterized by a decrease in activity for all groups. Patterns of activity during the weekend were smoother with less variability.

Conclusion:

This study identified discrete segments of the week, specifically afterschool and during the weekend, when preschoolers engage in low levels of PA. Higher levels of MVPA among children who attended preschool for less time each day suggests that the structured preschool environment is related to decreased activity. Consequently, there is a need for interventions in young children to focus on school and home environments.