Objectives: To investigate the amount of regular activity and time spent in sedentary occupations in children aged 7--9 years. Sex differences in levels of activity and time and facilities for physical education at school were also examined.
Methods: A 10% sample of Dublin National Schools were selected. Parents of children in second class were surveyed. The questionnaire used was a modification of the Modifiable Activity Questionnaire for Adolescents. Teachers of second class were questioned about the time and facilities for physical education in schools.
Results: Some 39% of children were participating in hard exercise for at least 20 minutes three or more times a week, with fewer girls (28%) than boys (53%) contributing to this result. A further 57% of children were engaging in at least 20 minutes of light exercise three or more times a week, with no sex differences. Estimated energy expenditure in regular activity was higher in boys than girls. Most (78%) of the children were spending one to three hours a day sedentary in front of a screen.
Conclusions: This study provides comprehensive data on physical activity levels in Dublin schoolchildren aged 7--9 years. The amount of inactivity is of concern. Even at this young age, boys are reported to participate in more physical activity than girls.