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Prev Med. 1997 Mar-Apr;26(2):257-63.

A prospective study of the determinants of physical activity in rural fifth-grade children.

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  • 1Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia 29208, USA.



Understanding the factors that influence physical activity behavior is important in the design of intervention programs targeted at youth.


A prospective study design was used to identify the predictors of vigorous physical activity (VPA) (> or = 6 METs) and moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) (> or = 3 METs) among 202 rural, predominantly African-American children. Selected social-cognitive determinants of physical activity were assessed via questionnaire in the fifth grade. Participation in VPA and MVPA was assessed via the previous day physical activity recall 1 year later in the sixth grade.


For girls, participation in community sports, self-efficacy in overcoming barriers, enjoyment of school physical education, race (white > black), and perception of mother's activity level (active vs inactive) were significant predictors of VPA. For MVPA, participation in community sports and self-efficacy in overcoming barriers were significant predictors. For boys, self-efficacy in overcoming barriers was the only significant predictor of VPA, while beliefs regarding activity outcomes and participation in community sports were significant predictors of MVPA.


Social-cognitive constructs such as physical activity self-efficacy, access to community physical activity outlets, and positive beliefs regarding physical activity outcomes are important predictors of future physical activity behavior among rural, predominantly African-American children.

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