Purpose: To describe the prevalence and correlates of physical inactivity and of participation in organized sports at and outside school among elementary schoolchildren in multiethnic, low income, urban neighborhoods in Montreal, Canada.
Methods: As part of the evaluation of a school-based heart health promotion program, baseline data on physical activity behaviors and potential correlates of these behaviors, were collected from 2285 students aged 9-13 in all 130 grade 4 to 6 classes in 24 inner-city elementary schools from May to June 1993.
Results: One-fifth of boys (20.5%) and 24.4% of girls were inactive; 40.0% and 33.3% of boys and girls respectively, participated in school sports teams; 82.5% and 74.7% participated in organized sports outside school. Declines in activity levels with age were apparent in both genders. Children who participated in organized sports programs at and outside school, those with higher perceived self-efficacy for physical activity, and those with more parental support for engaging in physical activity were more active. Children of Asian family origin were less active. Socioeconomic status was related to participation in organized sports outside school.
Conclusions: To reach children in socio-economically disadvantaged areas and to prevent age-related declines in activity levels, interventions promoting physical activity should focus on increasing availability and access to community-based organized sports programs at and outside school. Also they should include components to increase parental support and to improve perceived self-efficacy for physical activity.