Association between objectively evaluated physical activity and sedentary behavior and screen time in primary school children

BMC Res Notes. 2017 May 2;10(1):175. doi: 10.1186/s13104-017-2495-y.


Background: Even when meeting guidelines for physical activity (PA), considerable sedentary time may be included. This study in primary school children investigated the relationships between objectively evaluated sedentary and PA times at different intensities using triaxial accelerometry that discriminated between ambulatory and non-ambulatory PA. The relationships between subjectively evaluated screen time (i.e. time spent viewing television and videos, playing electronic games, and using personal computers) and objectively evaluated sedentary and PA times were examined.

Methods: Objectively evaluated sedentary and PA times were assessed for 7 consecutive days using a triaxial accelerometer (Active style Pro: HJA-350IT) in 426 first to sixth grade girls and boys. Metabolic equivalents [METs] were used to categorize the minutes of sedentary time (≤1.5 METs), light PA (LPA, 1.6-2.9 METs), moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA, ≥3.0 METs) and vigorous PA (VPA, ≥6.0 METs). The physical activity level (PAL) was calculated using the mean MET value. Subjectively evaluated screen time behaviors were self-reported by participants and parents acting together. The associations between PA and sedentary and screen time variables were examined using partial correlation analyses.

Results: After adjustment for age, body weight and wearing time, objectively evaluated sedentary time correlated strongly with non-ambulatory and total LPA and PAL, moderately with ambulatory LPA, non-ambulatory or total MVPA, and weakly with ambulatory MVPA, ambulatory, non-ambulatory or total VPA. Subjectively evaluated screen time was not associated significantly with objectively evaluated sedentary and PA times or PAL. On average, each reduction of 30 min in daily sedentary time was associated with 6 or 23 min more of MVPA or LPA, respectively.

Conclusions: These findings show that higher daily sedentary time may be compensated mainly by lower LPA, while the association between sedentary time and MVPA was moderate. Therefore, improving MVPA and reducing sedentary time are important in primary school children.

Keywords: Accelerometer; Ambulatory activity; Exercise; Non-ambulatory activity; Screen time; Sitting.

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Equivalent / physiology*
  • Schools
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Self Report
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires