Predicting Physical Activity Intention and Behavior in School-Age Children

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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Two studies were conducted to predict physical activity in school-aged children. Study 1 tested the utility of an integrated model in predicting physical activity (PA) intention and behavior—the theory of planned behavior (TPB) and self-efficacy theory. Six hundred and forty-five New Zealand children (aged 11–13 years) completed measures corresponding to the integrated model and a self-reported measure of PA one week later. Perceived behavioral control (PBC) and subjective norm were the two strongest predictors of intentions. Task efficacy and barrier efficacy were the two strongest predictors of PA. A second study (Study 2) was conducted to determine whether the self-efficacy measures could discriminate objectively measured PA levels. Sixty-seven Canadian children (aged 11–13 years) completed task and barrier self-efficacy measures. The following week, children classified as ‘high’ (n = 11) and ‘lower’ (n = 7) for both task and barrier efficacy wore an Actical® monitor for seven consecutive days to provide activity-related energy expenditure (AEE) data. Results showed that children with high efficacy expended significantly greater AEE than their lower efficacious counterparts. Findings from these two studies provide support for the use of self-efficacy interventions as a potentially useful means of increasing PA levels among school-aged children.

Foley, Prapavessis, Burke, and McGowan are with the School of Kinesiology, The University of Western Ontario London, Ontario, Canada N6A 3K7. Maddison is with the Clinical Trials Research Unit, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand. Gillanders is with the Dept. of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.