Pedometers and Aerobic Capacity: Evaluating an After-School Physical Activity Program

Thursday, April 3, 2014
Exhibit Hall Poster Area 2 (Convention Center)
Elizabeth Wanless, Shannon Titus Dieringer, Lawrence W. Judge, James Johnson and Michele Plummer, Ball State University, Muncie, IN
Background/Purpose: One in three children ages 2-19 are overweight or obese in part due to a lack of physical activity (PA) (Let’s Move, 2013). One of the main challenges in integrating PA activity into the school environment is lack of time and resources. One solution is to consider ways in which PA activity can be integrated outside of classroom time (e.g., afterschool physical activity programs). The purpose of the following study was to assess how an 8-week pedometer-focused afterschool physical activity program impacted aerobic capacity in elementary school aged children as well as to evaluate the relationship between step count and aerobic capacity improvement. Method: A group of elementary students (n=29) participated in a pedometer-focused 8-week physical activity program that included pre- and post-training fitness testing via the 20-meter PACER test. The program included a series of walking/jogging workouts as well as fitness centered large-sided games and activities designed to increase step count measured via individual pedometers. Each participant logged their steps daily in journals. A paired samples t-test was employed in order to assess differences in pre- and post-workout data. A Pearson correlation was utilized to determine the relationship between individual step count and the difference between PACER pre- and post-test data. Significance was set a priori to alpha < .05 for all analyses, and all statistical analyses were performed using SPSS version 20.0. Analysis/Results: As a group, the participants totalled 1,388,155 steps for the project; individual steps ranged from 27,419 and 62,158 steps for the duration of the program (M = 47,867, SD = 9332). The paired samples t-test revealed significant differences between the PACER pre-test (M = 21.16 laps, SD = 9.90) and post-test (M = 24.81 laps, SD = 12.15) scores (t = 4.043, p < .001). The Pearson correlation revealed no significant relationship between individual step count and the difference between PACER pre- and post-test (r = .249, p = .194). Conclusions: The results demonstrate the impact of the physical activity program on the aerobic capacity of the participants; however, step count did not predict improvement in aerobic capacity. Further research with more in-depth testing procedures to assess the program is warranted to understand the effectiveness of an afterschool fitness/running program on the overall fitness of elementary school students.