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Collin Andrew Webster and Naoki Suzuki

The uptake of policies and recommendations to promote physical activity (PA) in American schools has been slow. It can be useful to investigate international contexts where school-based PA promotion has had more success and consider whether facilitative factors have transferability to American schools. This study employed a social ecological perspective to examine the school-based PA opportunities for Grade 2 students in Japan and the factors influencing these opportunities. Observations in five public schools, relevant documents, and interviews with teachers, principals, and district and ministry officials were analyzed using constant comparison. Findings showed multiple PA opportunities existed in daily routines and throughout the year. Government policy had a downstream influence on all lower levels of the education system. Many of the PA opportunities Japanese schools provided align with American recommendations, but different educational priorities between Japan and the United States might make implementing these opportunities more challenging in American schools.

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Benjamin C. Guinhouya, Mohamed Lemdani, Géoffroy K. Apété, Alain Durocher, Christian Vilhelm and Hervé Hubert

Background:

This study was designed to model the relationship between an ActiGraph-based “in-school” physical activity (PA) and the daily one among children and to quantify how school can contribute to the daily PA recommendations.

Method:

Fifty boys and 43 girls (aged 8 to 11 years) wore ActiGraph for 2 schooldays of no structured PA. The daily moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPAd) was regressed on the school time MVPA (MVPAs). Then, a ROC analysis was computed to define the required MVPAs.

Results:

Children spent 57% of their awaking time at school. School time PA opportunities (ie, recesses: ~18% of a child’s awaking time) accounted for >70% of the MVPAd among children. Then, MVPAd (Y) could be predicted from MVPAs (X) using the equation: Y = 2.06 X 0.88; R 2 = .889, P < .0001. Although, this model was sex-specifically determined, cross-validations showed valid estimates of MVPAd. Finally, with a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 90%, MVPAs, a 34 min.d−1 was required to prompt the daily recommendation.

Conclusions:

The current study shows the contribution of MVPA at school to recommended activity levels and suggests the value of activity performed during recesses. It also calls for encouraging both home- and community-based interventions, predominantly directed toward girls.

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Greet Maria Cardon, Leen Liesbeth Haerens, Stefanie Verstraete and Ilse de Bourdeaudhuij

The present study aimed to investigate how classroom-based self-management lessons to promote physical activity were perceived by students, teachers, and parents. The self-management lessons were implemented by an external physical education specialist in 20 class groups at eight elementary schools. Program perceptions were evaluated in 412 children (mean age 9.7 ± 0.7) using a short questionnaire. Oral surveys were used with 20 teachers and 50 parent participants. Most children were enthusiastic about the program and more than half of them reported being more active. Teachers and parents also perceived the lessons as useful and half of them reported an improvement in children’s physical activity awareness. Eighty percent of the teachers and 32% of the parents perceived an increase in children’s physical activity levels. The SPARK self-management physical activity program appears to promote an active lifestyle in children and was positively received; the implementation of the program by the teachers needs further evaluation.

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Dartagnan P. Guedes, Jaime Miranda Neto, Vitor Pires Lopes and António José Silva

Background:

This study investigated the association between sociodemographic and behavioral factors and health standards based on physical fitness component scores in a sample of Brazilian schoolchildren.

Methods:

A sample of 1457 girls and 1392 boys aged 6 to 18 years performed a test battery of 5 items: 1) sit-and-reach, 2) curl-up, 3) trunk-lift, 4) push-up, and 5) progressive endurance run (PACER). The cut-off scores for gender and age suggested by the FitnessGram were adopted.

Results:

The findings showed that the sociodemographic and behavioral factors significantly associated with the ability of schoolchildren of meeting the health standards varied according to the fitness test. In the 5 tests used girls presented lower chance of meeting the health standards. Age and socioeconomic class were negatively associated with the performance in all physical tests. Schoolchildren aged ≤ 9 years or from families of lowest socioeconomic class presented approximately twice the chance of meeting the health standards than those aged ≥ 15 years and from more privileged families, specifically in the push-up (OR = 2.40; 95% CI 2.01–2.82) and PACER (OR = 2.18; 95% CI 1.84–2.54) tests.

Conclusions:

Interventions to promote health-related physical fitness should not only consider gender and age of schoolchildren, but also selected sociodemographic and behavioral factors, especially socioeconomic class and leisure activities.

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Patricia Olaya-Contreras, Myriam Bastidas and Daniel Arvidsson

Aims:

The aim of this study is to investigate associations of screen-time and physical activity (PA) with self-efficacy for PA, intrinsic motivation to PA and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in Colombian schoolchildren from socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods, and to compare these variables among children with normal-weight (NW), overweight (OW) and obesity (OB).

Methods:

In 678 schoolchildren (age 10–14 years) screen-time (TV, video games, computer) and number of days being physically active ≥ 60 minutes were self-reported. Multi-item scales were used to assess self-efficacy to PA and intrinsic motivation to PA. The KIDSCREEN-27 was used to assess HRQoL.

Results:

Screen-time was associated with HRQoL in the school/learning environment dimension. Number of days being physically active was associated with self-efficacy for PA, intrinsic motivation for PA and with HRQoL concerning physical well-being, autonomy/parent relation and social support/peers. Group differences were found for days being physically active (OW = 2.8 and OB = 2.7 vs. NW = 3.3) but not for screen-time (NW = 5.0, OW = 4.7 and OB = 5.7 hrs·d-1). OW and OB scored lower on intrinsic motivation to PA than NW (OW = 19.2 and OB = 17.9 versus NW = 20.1). All 3 groups differed in physical well-being scores (NW = 50.3, OW = 48.1, OB = 40.6, P < .001).

Conclusions:

Schoolchildren with overweight and obesity from socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods need additional motivational support to perform health-enhancing PA to experience higher physical well-being.

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Andrew N. Wilson, Timothy Olds, Kurt Lushington, Somayeh Parvazian and James Dollman

Purpose:

Brief classroom-based episodes of physical activity (active lesson breaks, ALBs) have improved schoolchildren’s classroom behaviors in some studies, and may also increase the likelihood of children meeting the recommended daily minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). However, there is emerging evidence that increases in physical activity at particular times of the day may lead to compensatory declines at other times. This study explored evidence for compensatory declines in response to a 10 min ALB during the school day.

Method:

Thirty-eight 12-year-old boys from a single elementary school completed intervention and control conditions in a cross-over design, with each phase lasting one week. The intervention consisted of a single 10-min active lesson break delivered on each of three days in the intervention week. Twenty-four hour accelerometry was used to quantify moderate and vigorous physical activity.

Results:

ALBs increased in-school MVPA by 5.8 min (p < .0001), but overall daily MVPA was similar between intervention and control conditions (77.2 vs 77.4 min/d, p > .05), However, vigorous physical activity increased significantly over the whole day (11.2 vs 8.9 min, p = .0006).

Conclusion:

A brief episode of classroom-based play led to a modest increase in vigorous physical activity in elementary school students, but did not increase MVPA across the day.

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Lennart Raudsepp and Peep Päll

The purpose of the present study was to examine the association between fundamental motor skill development and various types of outside-school physical activity. Outside-school physical activity of 133 elementary schoolchildren was measured using a modified observational method validated by O’Hara et al. (18) and Caltrac accelerometers (Hemokinetics, Madison, Wisconsin). Developmental level of overhand throwing and jumping was assessed using total-body developmental sequences. The results revealed that developmental levels of both overhand throwing and jumping were significantly correlated with the skill-specific physical activity (r = .44 and .55 for overhand throwing and jumping, respectively). Caltrac score was not significantly related to jumping and overhand throwing skills. Skill-specific physical activities accounted for 20% of the variance (adjusted R 2) in overhand throwing and 17% of the variance in jumping performance. Findings supported the hypothesis that developmental level of fundamental motor skills would be related with skill-specific outside-school physical activity but not with general level of physical activity of elementary schoolchildren.

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Michael J. Duncan, Lorayne Woodfield, Yahya Al-Nakeeb and Alan M. Nevill

The purpose of this study was to compare physical activity levels between white and South Asian children in the UK. The data were obtained from 606, 11–14 year old schoolchildren (397 white; 209 Asian). Physical activity was assessed using the ‘four by one day’ recall questionnaire from which the time spent in moderate and vigorous physical activity was calculated. Boys were significantly more active than girls (p = .0001), and white children reported significantly greater physical activity than south Asian children (p = .001). Mean ± SD of time spent in moderate and vigorous activity was 90.2 ± 65.4 mins and 68.2 ± 49.3 mins for white and south Asian children and 103.5 ± 63.4 mins and 65.6 ± 53.5 mins for boys and girls respectively. These findings indicate that south Asian children are significantly less active than their white peers and there may be a need for specific interventions to target South Asian children particularly.

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Maria L. Zonderland, Wietze B.M. Erich, Wouter Kortlandt and D. Willem Erkelens

A 3-year controlled intervention was used to study the influence of physical activity on the plasma lipid and apoprotein profile of 10-year-old Dutch schoolchildren. Twice-a-year measurements were taken of height, weight, body composition (skinfolds), pubertal development (Tanner stages), total cholesterol (TC), high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), triglycerides (TG), apoproteins A-I and B (immunoturbidimetry), and participation in physical activities. The effect of the intervention was analyzed with a MANOVA. The intervention did not affect the level of the lipids and apoproteins of the boys. In the girls, the intervention led to a smaller increase of TG and a larger decrease of apoprotein A-I. There may be two explanations for the limited intervention effect. First, it may be due to the healthy baseline plasma lipid and apoprotein profile, which leaves little room for improvement. Second, the exercise intensity during the physical education classes may have been too low to bring about the desired effect.

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Non-Eleri Thomas, Stephen-Mark Cooper, Simon P. Williams, Julien S. Baker and Bruce Davies

The purpose of this study was to examine relationships between aerobic fitness (AF), fatness, and coronary-heart-disease (CHD) risk factors in 12- to 13-year-olds. The data were obtained from 208 schoolchildren (100 boys; 108 girls) ages 12.9 ± 0.3 years. Measurements included AF, indices of obesity, blood pressure, blood lipids and lipoproteins, fibrinogen, homocysteine, and C-reactive protein. An inverse relationship was found between AF and fatness (p < .05). Fatness was related to a greater number of CHD risk factors than fitness was (p < .05). Further analysis revealed fatness to be an independent predictor of triglyceride and blood-pressure levels (p < .05). Our findings indicate that, for young people, fatness rather than fitness is independently related to CHD risk factors.