Physical activity has been deemed a leading health indicator for improving our nation's health. It is recommended that children participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day.
The first purpose of this study was to determine if differences in after-school physical activity participation existed among middle school children from different socioeconomic statuses (SES). The second purpose was to identify which predisposing, reinforcing, and enabling factors predicted after-school physical activity participation among middle school children.
A valid and reliable instrument was developed and administered to middle school children (N = 158) who voluntarily participated in the cross-sectional, survey research study. Survey items assessed predisposing (physical activity self-efficacy, attraction to physical activity, and physical activity competence), reinforcing (parental role modeling, parental influence, and peer influence), and enabling (walking to school, walking from school, neighborhood safety, number of sports, access to equipment, access to play spaces, and average TV and computer/video gaming time per day) factors as predictors of average physical activity level (dependent variable).
There was a significant difference in average daily physical activity levels (0-29 minutes, 30-59 minutes, 60-89 minutes, 90-119 minutes, and 120 minutes or more) and SES (low or not-low) (p ≤ .037). Low SES children reported being more active than not-low SES children. Ordinal logistic regression results indicated that the amount of time a child played computer or video games (p = .015) and the number of sports in which a child participated (p = .041) significantly predicted children's after-school physical activity level.
Contrary to adult physical activity correlates which show that lower SES adults are less physically active than their higher SES counterparts during their leisure time, in this sample, children from low socioeconomic families reported being more active than children who were not from low socioeconomic families. Additionally, computer and video gaming negatively impacted physical activity level. Lastly, children's involvement in after-school sports or community-based physical activity programs showed a positive impact on after-school physical activity level.
Translation to Health Education Practice:
When determining how to increase children's after-school physical activity participation, health educators should consider teaming with after-school physical programs or promoting sport involvement. Children's participation in these after-school activities not only increase physical activity participation, but also may decrease the amount of time children spend "gaming."
See more of: AAHE Research Coordinating Board