Physical Activity and Sedentary Pursuits of Children Living in Residential Children’s Homes

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Our goal was to describe the types of physical activities and sedentary pursuits reported by children living in residential children’s homes and make comparisons by age, gender, and race/ethnic groups.


Participants were 263 children (52% male, 40% 11 to 14 years old, 53% White, 23% African American, and 24% other race/ethnic groups) in 23 residential children’s homes in North and South Carolina. The median length of stay in the homes was 6 months. Physical activities and sedentary pursuits were reported over a 3-day period using the 3-Day Physical Activity Recall (3DPAR).


Boys reported participating in more basketball (P ≤ .001), football (P ≤ .001), and videogames or surfing the net (P ≤ .001) than did girls. Girls reported more cheerleading, social dance, and homework than did boys (P values ≤ .01). There were few race differences. Fewer older children reported participation in physical education classes, and more reported working part-time than younger children (P values ≤ .001).


Children in residential homes appear to participate in activities that are similar to children living with their parents, with boys reporting more team activities and girls reporting more individual activities. However, children in residential children’s homes may participate in some physical activities for shorter periods of time than children living with their parents.

Dowda is with the Dept of Exercise Science, and Saunders, Hastings, and Gay the Dept of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208. Evans is with the Division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, University of Texas School of Public Health, Austin, TX 78701.