Age and gender differences in the physical activity patterns of urban schoolchildren in Korea and China

J Physiol Anthropol. 2007 Mar;26(2):101-7. doi: 10.2114/jpa2.26.101.


Physical activity in childhood is important as it may establish adult behavior. However, few studies on physical activity in children have been conducted, especially in Asian children. We performed anthropometric measurements of 159 school children in two grades (grade 5: 10-11 years old and grade 8: 13-14 years old) from urban areas of Korea (n=79) and China (n=80). The total daily energy expenditure (TEE) was estimated for 7 consecutive days using an accelerometer. The mean height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) for boys and girls in both countries exceeded the US national reference median (CDC, 2000). Physical activity levels (PALs) were significantly higher in the grade 5 group (10-11 years old) and in girls than in boys for both grades. No significant difference in PALs or daily step-counts (STPs) was observed between 'normal' and 'overweight' subgroups based on BMI, although negative correlations were found between weight, BMI, or %body fat vs. PAL or STP among Korean girls and Chinese boys (r=0.32-0.38, all p<0.05). Daily variation in physical activity was observed in Korean children. In the Koreans (boys and girls, both grades pooled), TEE and STP were significantly lower than the 7-day average on Sundays, whereas for the Chinese population, STP did not clearly differ between the weekends and the week averages. In summary, PALs were higher in the fifth grade boys and girls than in the eighth grade children; interestingly, girls tended to have higher PALs than boys. Daily variation in physical activity was observed in Korea; children were less active on Sundays.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Composition*
  • Child
  • Child Welfare
  • China / epidemiology
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Korea / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Sex Factors
  • Urban Population