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Michael D. Ferrell, Robert L. Beach, Nikolaus M. Szeverenyi, Marlyn Krch and Bo Fernhall

Performance at one's highest personal level is often accompanied by a palpable, yet enigmatic sensation that many athletes refer to as the zone. Competitive athletes regularly acknowledge that their top performances are dependent on achieving a zone state of performance. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technologies were used in observing differing patterns of neural activation that occur among athletes during a hypnotically recalled zone-state performance of eight accomplished, competitive right-handed archers. These data were compared to each participant's respective fMRI data of a hypnotically assisted recall of a normal performance. Analysis of composite group data revealed significant (p = 0.05) neural activation of zone performance (ZP) over normal performance (NP), suggesting that performance in a zone state involves identifiable characteristics of neural processing. Perhaps this investigation might stimulate additional, more creative research in identifying a psychophysiological indicator of the zone phenomenon that would provide adequate justification for a training regimen providing a more reliable and sustained zone performance.

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Jaakko Kaprio and Seppo Sarna

Occupational disability was investigated in former Finnish athletes in the Olympic Games, World or European championships, or intercountry competitions during 1920–1965 (N = 2,402 men) for eight selected sports. The referents were 1,712 men selected from the Finnish conscription register, matched on age and area of residence and classified as completely healthy. The first outcome measure was the length of working life based on the age when the subject was granted a disability pension, or age at death before age 65. The Kaplan-Meier estimate of mean working life expectancy was 61.4 years for endurance sport athletes, 60.0 years for team games athletes, and 59.2 years for power sport competitors, compared with 57.6 years for the reference group. Decreased coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular and respiratory morbidity were observed for all athletes when compared with the referent group. It was concluded that sustained and vigorous physical activity during early adulthood may extend the occupationally active life span and defer the onset of disability before retirement age.

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Tamara Vehige Calise and Sarah Martin

Background:

Physical inactivity is one of the top 3 risk factors associated with an increased prevalence of obesity and other chronic diseases. The public health infrastructure positions state health departments to address physical inactivity. To examine preparedness, all 50 health departments were assessed, using the 5 benchmarks developed by CDC for physical activity and public health practice, on their capacity to administer physical activity programs.

Methods:

States were scored on a 5-point scale for each benchmark. The top 2 high and low scores were combined to create 2 categories. Exact Chi-square analyses were performed.

Results:

States with CDC obesity funding scored higher on 4 benchmarks than states without. States with a state physical activity plan scored higher on all benchmarks than states without. States with a physical activity coalition scored higher on 2 benchmarks than states without.

Conclusions:

At the time of the assessment, approximately 20% of state physical activity programs could have improved in the use of evidence-based strategies and planning and evaluation approaches. Furthermore, many programs seemed to have limited sustainability. The findings of this report serve as a baseline of the capacity and infrastructure of state health department physical activity programs.

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Jason Duvall

Background:

This study investigated the effectiveness of enhanced cognitive awareness as a means of encouraging outdoor walking. An intervention using engagement-based strategies was compared with a more traditional walking intervention focused on developing and committing to a personalized walking schedule.

Methods:

117 adults were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 treatments—Standard Care (schedule setting, commitment) or Engagement (awareness plans)—and asked to take at least 3, 30 minute outdoor walks each week for 2 weeks. During the study period, self-report and objective measures were used to collect data on walking behavior.

Results:

Individuals in both treatment conditions reported significant increases (P < .05) in walking behavior. Participants in both treatments failed to sustain these increases at a follow-up measure 4 weeks later. However, the Engagement condition was particularly effective for those individuals who had less prior experience maintaining a walking routine.

Conclusion:

Overall, the findings suggest it may be beneficial to incorporate engagement-based strategies into existing walking interventions. Results of this study also raise the possibility that efforts to encourage cognitive awareness may make the outdoor walking experience more interesting and enjoyable.

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Suzie Mudge, Denise Taylor, Oliver Chang and Rosita Wong

Background:

Activity Monitors give an objective measure of usual walking performance. This study aimed to examine the test-retest reliability of the StepWatch Activity Monitor outputs (mean steps/day; peak activity index; sustained activity indices of 1, 5, 20, 30, 60 minutes; steps at high, medium, and low stepping rates).

Methods:

Thirty healthy adults age 18 to 49 years wore the StepWatch for 2 3-day periods at least 1 week apart.

Results:

The intraclass correlation coefficients of the StepWatch outputs ranged from 0.44 to 0.91 over 3 days. The coefficient of variation ranged from 3.0% to 51.3% over the monitoring periods, with higher variation shown for shorter monitoring periods. The most reliable 5 outputs had 95% limits of agreement between 3-day periods that were less than 40%. These were mean steps/day (±39.1%), highest step rate in 1 (±17.3%) and 5 (±37.4%) minutes, peak activity index (±25.6%), and percentage of inactive time (±9.52%).

Conclusions:

Mean steps/day, highest step rate in 1 and 5 minutes, peak activity index, and percentage of inactive time have good test-retest reliability over a 3-day monitoring period, with lower reliability shown by the other StepWatch outputs. Monitoring over 1 or 2 days is less reliable.

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Meghan Baruth and Sara Wilcox

Background:

Understanding who is most and least likely to remain active after the completion of physical activity (PA) interventions can assist in developing more targeted and effective programs to enhance prolonged behavior change. The purpose of this study was to examine predictors of meeting PA recommendations 6 months postintervention in participants enrolled in Active for Life.

Methods:

Participants from 2 behavioral PA programs [158 Active Choices (AC); 1025 Active Living Every Day (ALED)] completed surveys 6 months after completion of the active intervention. Analyses examined predictors of meeting PA recommendations at follow-up.

Results:

The following were significant predictors: In ALED: self-report health status, satisfaction with body function, and self-efficacy at baseline; PA status at posttest; changes in self-efficacy, perceived stress, and satisfaction with body function and appearance from baseline to posttest. In AC: PA status at posttest.

Conclusions:

The ultimate goal of health promotion programs is to teach the behavioral skills necessary to sustain behavior change once an active intervention is complete. The findings from this study suggest that predicting PA behavior after cessation of PA interventions may not be straightforward, and predictor variables may operate differently in different intervention approaches.

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Fiona Iredale, Frank Bell and Myra Nimmo

Fourteen sedentary 50- to 55-year-old men were exercised to exhaustion using an incremental treadmill protocol. Mean (±SEM) peak oxygen uptake (V̇O2peak) was 40.5 ± 1.19 ml · kg1 · min−1, and maximum heart rate was 161 ± 4 beats · min−1. Blood lactate concentration was measured regularly to identify the lactate threshold (oxygen consumption at which blood lactate concentration begins to systematically increase). Threshold occurred at 84 ± 2% of V̇O2peak. The absolute lactate value at threshold was 2.9 ± 0.2 mmol · L−1. On a separate occasion, 6 subjects exercised continuously just below their individual lactate thresholds for 25 min without significantly raising their blood lactate levels from the 10th minute to the 25th. The absolute blood lactate level over the last 20 min of the steady-state test averaged 3.7 ± 1.2 mmol · L−1. This value is higher than that elicited at the threshold in the incremental test because of the differing nature of the protocols. It was concluded that although the lactate threshold occurs at a high percentage of V̇O2peak, subjects are still able to sustain exercise at that intensity for 25 min.

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Nicholas Gilson, Wendy J. Brown, Guy Faulkner, Jim McKenna, Marie Murphy, Andy Pringle, Karin Proper, Anna Puig-Ribera and Aphroditi Stathi

Background:

This paper aimed to use the Delphi technique to develop a consensus framework for a multinational, workplace walking intervention.

Methods:

Ideas were gathered and ranked from eight recognized and emerging experts in the fields of physical activity and health, from universities in Australia, Canada, England, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, and Spain. Members of the panel were asked to consider the key characteristics of a successful campus walking intervention. Consensus was reached by an inductive, content analytic approach, conducted through an anonymous, three-round, e-mail process.

Results:

The resulting framework consisted of three interlinking themes defined as “design, implementation, and evaluation.” Top-ranked subitems in these themes included the need to generate research capacity (design), to respond to group needs through different walking approaches (implementation), and to undertake physical activity assessment (evaluation). Themes were set within an underpinning domain, referred to as the “institution” and sites are currently engaging with subitems in this domain, to provide sustainable interventions that refect the practicalities of local contexts and needs.

Conclusions:

Findings provide a unique framework for designing, implementing, and evaluating walking projects in universities and highlight the value of adopting the Delphi technique for planning international, multisite health initiatives.

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Kate Heelan, H. Jason Combs, Bryce M. Abbey, Paul Burger and Todd Bartee

Background:

The decline in active commuting to and from school in the United States is, in part, due to urban design standards and public policies that promote automobile travel and discourage pedestrian activity.

Purpose:

The current investigation examines active commuting at neighborhood schools and how it is altered by distance to school, student age and its potential impact on Body Mass Index.

Methods:

Demographic and transportation datasets were obtained for 5367 elementary students (K−5th grade) and middle school students (6th−8th grade) in 2 Midwestern communities.

Results:

4379 (81.6%) students were successfully geocoded and 21.9% actively commute to school at least half of the time meeting the Healthy People 2010 objective 22−14. Of those students who could potentially actively commute to school (0.5 mile for grades K−5 and 1 mile for grades 6−8) 36.6% are passive commuters. No significant negative associations were found between BMI z-score or BMI percentile with accumulation of activity through active commuting (frequency × distance) for elementary (r = −0.04, P = .27) or middle school students (r = .027, P = .56).

Conclusion:

Many elementary students living within 0.3−0.4 miles are being driven to school. Promoting pedestrian-friendly communities and making healthy and sustainable transportation choices should be priorities for community leaders and school administrators.

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Marj Moodie, Michelle M. Haby, Boyd Swinburn and Robert Carter

Background:

To assess from a societal perspective the cost-effectiveness of a school program to increase active transport in 10- to 11-year-old Australian children as an obesity prevention measure.

Methods:

The TravelSMART Schools Curriculum program was modeled nationally for 2001 in terms of its impact on Body Mass Index (BMI) and Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) measured against current practice. Cost offsets and DALY benefits were modeled until the eligible cohort reached age 100 or died. The intervention was qualitatively assessed against second stage filter criteria (‘equity,’ ‘strength of evidence,’ ‘acceptability to stakeholders,’ ‘feasibility of implementation,’ ‘sustainability,’ and ‘side-effects’) given their potential impact on funding decisions.

Results:

The modeled intervention reached 267,700 children and cost $AUD13.3M (95% uncertainty interval [UI] $6.9M; $22.8M) per year. It resulted in an incremental saving of 890 (95%UI −540; 2,900) BMI units, which translated to 95 (95% UI −40; 230) DALYs and a net cost per DALY saved of $AUD117,000 (95% UI dominated; $1.06M).

Conclusions:

The intervention was not cost-effective as an obesity prevention measure under base-run modeling assumptions. The attribution of some costs to nonobesity objectives would be justified given the program’s multiple benefits. Cost-effectiveness would be further improved by considering the wider school community impacts.