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Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2014 Jan 24;11:8. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-11-8.

Using accelerometers and global positioning system devices to assess gender and age differences in children's school, transport, leisure and home based physical activity.

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  • 1Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense M, Denmark.



Knowledge on domain-specific physical activity (PA) has the potential to advance public health interventions and inform new policies promoting children's PA. The purpose of this study is to identify and assess domains (leisure, school, transport, home) and subdomains (e.g., recess, playgrounds, and urban green space) for week day moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) using objective measures and investigate gender and age differences.


Participants included 367 Danish children and adolescents (11-16 years, 52% girls) with combined accelerometer and Global Positioning System (GPS) data (mean 2.5 days, 12.7 hrs/day). The Personal Activity and Location Measurement System and a purpose-built database assessed data in 15-second epochs to determine PA and assign epochs to 4 domains and 11 subdomains. Frequencies and proportions of time spent in MVPA were determined and differences assessed using multi-level modeling.


More than 90% of MVPA was objectively assigned to domains/subdomains. Boys accumulated more MVPA overall, in leisure, school and transport (all p < 0.05). Children compared with adolescents accumulated more MVPA, primarily through more school MVPA (p < 0.05). Boys spent a large proportion of time accumulating MVPA in playgrounds, active transport, Physical Education, sports facilities, urban green space and school grounds. Girls spent a significant proportion of time accumulating MVPA in active transport and playgrounds. No gender or age differences were found in the home domain.


Large variations were found in PA frequency and intensity across domains/subdomains. Significant gender differences were found, with girls being less active in almost all domains and subdomains. Objectively measured patterns of PA across domains/subdomains can be used to better tailor PA interventions and inform future policies for promoting child PA.

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