Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate age and gender differences in objectively measured physical activity (PA) in a population-based sample of students in grades 1-12.
Methods: Participants (185 male, 190 female) wore a CSA 7164 accelerometer for 7 consecutive days. To examine age-related trends, students were grouped as follows: grades 1-3 (N = 90), grades 4-6 (N = 91), grades 7-9 (N = 96), and grades 10-12 (N = 92). Bouts of PA and minutes spent in moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) and vigorous PA (VPA) were examined.
Results: Daily MVPA and VPA exhibited a significant inverse relationship with grade level, with the largest differences occurring between grades 1-3 and 4-6. Boys were more active than girls; however, for overall PA, the magnitudes of the gender differences were modest. Participation in continuous 20-min bouts of PA was low to nonexistent.
Conclusion: Our results support the notion that PA declines rapidly during childhood and adolescence and that accelerometers are feasible alternatives to self-report methods in moderately sized population-level surveillance studies.