Different Methods Yielded Two-Fold Difference in Compliance with Physical Activity Guidelines on School Days

PLoS One. 2016 Mar 25;11(3):e0152323. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0152323. eCollection 2016.

Abstract

Introduction: The aim was to compare the average and the days method in exploring the compliance of children with physical activity guidelines and describe their physical activity patterns in different school day segments.

Methods: Physical activity was objectively measured in 472 children aged 6-13 for one school week. Children were compliant when fulfilling PA recommendations 1) on average over all measured days (average method) or 2) on at least four measured days (days method). To explore the difference in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) minutes between compliant and non-complaint children (using both the average and days method) in various day segments, linear mixed models was used.

Results: Compliance with physical activity guidelines was significantly higher with the average compared to the days method (51.7% and 23.7%, respectively). In segmented-day analysis, compliant children accrued more MVPA minutes in all day segments, especially during after-school. Gender differences appeared only during the in-school segments, where girls spent less time in MVPA (average method: -4.39 min, 95% CI = -5.36,-3.42, days method: -4.45 min, 95%CI = -5.46,-3.44). Older children accrued more MVPA minutes during physical education classes, but less during breaks, compared to younger children.

Conclusions: The used methods yielded remarkably different prevalence estimates for compliance to physical activity recommendations. To ensure comparability between studies, interventions and reports, there is a need for internationally agreed operationalization and assessment methods of physical activity guidelines. As non-compliant children had lower MVPA during all day segments, greater efforts should be made to provide physical activity opportunities both during and after school.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Estonia
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Pediatric Obesity / prevention & control
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Schools

Grant support

Publication of this article was funded by Science Institutional Grant IUT 20-58 and by the health promotion research programme TerVE project "Development of research-based physical activity program for children and youth", funded by the European Regional Development Fund and implemented by the Estonian Research Council. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.