Research Study Abstract

Seasonal changes in primary school children’s PA

  • Presented on May 21, 2014

Purpose: Seasonal variations may influence children’s physical activity patterns. Research is needed to examine how much physical activity youth engage in across the day and how this varies between seasons to inform the development of physical activity programs. The aim of this study was to investigate seasonal changes in children’s physical activity across one school year.

Methods: Three hundred and twenty-six children aged 8-11 years from nine primary schools in Melbourne, Australia, participated in the study. Physical activity was measured every 15-seconds using hip-mounted GT3X+ ActiGraph accelerometers for seven consecutive days in the winter, spring, summer and autumn school terms. Time spent in moderate- to vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) at each time point was derived using age-specific cut-points. Environmental data (maximum temperature, precipitation, daylight hours) were obtained daily during each season. Longitudinal data were analysed using three-level (term, pupil, school) multilevel analyses, adjusted for age, sex, accelerometer wear time, number of valid days, and environmental variables.

Results: Compared to winter months, children engaged in less MVPA in summer (-7.6 min, %95CI -14.4,-0.8; p = 0.03). They also engaged in less MVPA in spring (-11.8 min; p = 0.08) and more MVPA in autumn (6.3 min; p = 0.06), though this did not reach significance.

Conclusions: Physical activity decreased in the summer compared to winter, contrasting previous research that typically reports that children are most active in summer. The results suggest that strategies to promote physical activity may be needed in Australia during the hot summer months.

Presented at

ISBNPA 2014 Annual Conference