Correlates of objectively measured physical activity and sedentary behaviour in English children

Eur J Public Health. 2011 Aug;21(4):424-31. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckq104. Epub 2010 Jul 22.


Background: Evidence on the correlates of objectively measured physical activity and sedentary behaviour in childhood is limited. This study aimed to identify correlates of physical activity and sedentary behaviour among 7-year-old children in England.

Methods: Physical activity was measured using Actigraph accelerometry in 480 participants as part of the Gateshead Millennium Study during 2006-07. Twenty-two potential correlates across five domains (demographic and biological; psychological, cognitive and emotional; behavioural; social and cultural; physical environmental) were tested for associations with total volume of habitual physical activity, moderate-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) and sedentary behaviour. Multiple linear regression analysis was used.

Results: Seven correlates, including four that are potentially modifiable, were significantly associated with total physical activity, MVPA and sedentary behaviour in final models: gender, child weight status, maternal age, child interest in active play, active commuting to school, parenting practice and season. Four of these variables were significantly associated with all three constructs in final models. The final models explained 18, 18 and 24% of variance in total volume of physical activity, MVPA and sedentary behaviour, respectively.

Conclusion: A number of potentially modifiable factors are associated with increased physical activity and/or reduced sedentary behaviour in English children. These could be valuable targets of future interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • England
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Seasons
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Surveys and Questionnaires