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Objective - Accelerometer

558. 5-Year Changes in Afterschool Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior

Research Article
Lauren Arundell, Nicola D. Ridgers, Jenny Veitch, Jo Salmon, Trina Hinkley, Anna Timperio
August 2013

Commentary: Bethany Walker, National Heart Foundation of Australia 

Promoting physical activity during the afterschool period is an important and effective way to increase daily physical activity levels and decrease sedentary time. This review examines changes in afterschool activity levels across a five year span and quantifies the contribution of this period to total physical activity and sedentary levels as children mature.

Two Australian longitudinal studies recorded 622 children aged 5-6 years and 10-12 years across a 5 year period. Accelerometers were used to record light (LPA), moderate (MPA), and vigorous (VPA) physical activity. Sedentary time was recorded as less than ≤100 counts per minute.

From baseline (T1) to 5 year follow up (T3) results demonstrated that MPA declined over time in both the younger (T1=24 min, T3=11 min) and older age groups (T1=13 min, T3=9 min). VPA also decreased in the younger (T1=12 min, T3=4 min) and older cohorts (T1=6 min, T3=2 min). The largest decline amongst older children was only seen in LPA with a decrease from 76 minutes at T1 to 65 minutes at T3. Over the same time period after school sedentary time increased for both the younger (T1=42 min, T3=64 min) and older cohorts (T1=57 min, T3=84 min). In addition, after school physical activity increased its overall contribution to MPA and VPA from 23% to 33% in the older age group across the five years whilst in the younger age group the contribution of after school physical activity to overall MPA and VPA decreased by 3% over the five years. 

After school physical activity provides a valuable opportunity to engage children and adolescents in activity. This is particularly important as children enter adolescence where almost a third of their overall daily PA is made up of after school activity. Methods for engaging young children should begin as early as possible to encourage lasting physical activity behaviours. Further research is needed to determine the specific activities undertaken by children when engaged in physical activity of varying intensities to design effective and engaging interventions. 

Source: American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 44: 605-611. Access to this article will depend on your institutional rights. Click here to access the full article.