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Int J Sports Med. 1996 May;17(4):248-53.

Physical activity levels of 5-11-year-old children in England: cumulative evidence from three direct observation studies.

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1
Research Centre for PE, Exercise and Health, School of Education, University of Hull, England.

Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine the physical activity levels of a sample of young children. Data were collected using direct, continuous observation by trained observers. The observational method utilised a points system to differentiate intensity of physical activity. Observations were carried out during school break times, lunch times and physical education lessons and during free time outside of school. The sample consisted of 93 girls and 86 boys aged between 5 and 11 years. Only 38 children (21%) engaged in a sustained 20-min period of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), but nearly all children (95%) took part in a 5-min period of MVPA. The highest recordings of MVPA occurred during school break times but MVPA was less prominent during free time outside of school. One hundred and seventy eight children were observed during school physical education lessons. Sustained MVPA was particularly low during physical education lessons with only 13 children (8%) participating in at least one sustained 10-min period. There appeared to be no difference in activity levels between boys and girls or between children of differing ages. During all observation periods the main activity of the child was recorded. Soccer, brisk walking, general play and chasing games were the most common activities. The results are disturbing since preadolescent children appear to be engaging in very little sustained, playful physical activity during their free time outside of school. If childhood is considered to be the most active stage of life there must be concern for the future. There is a need for health professionals to promote active lifestyles from birth.

PMID:
8814504
DOI:
10.1055/s-2007-972841
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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