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Journal article

Where children play most: physical activity levels of school children across four settings and policy implications

Child health Physical activity Exercise Queensland
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apo-nid197616.pdf 189.53 KB


Objective: This study examined physical activity levels among 2,296 Queensland school children in the school, club sport, active transport and free time settings. Childhood physical activity contributes to musculoskeletal strength, psychosocial benefits and cardiovascular health.

Methods: Data were collected from parents by computer‐assisted telephone interview on an annual preventive health monitoring survey conducted by the Queensland Government.

Results: Parents reported that children achieved the largest proportions of their physical activity in school (33%) or their free time (42%). Moderate participation levels were reported for active transport and organised sport and these activities contributed lower proportions to total physical activity (10% and 15%, respectively). After adjusting for age and sex, living in a family with higher levels of activity and with a parent that knows physical activity guidelines was associated with higher activity levels.

Implications for public health: Increasing physical activity in settings where less active children are already participating, specifically in school settings and during free time, may have more immediate benefits than encouraging children to be active in new settings. Many children achieve seven or more hours of physical activity weekly but do not meet the physical activity guideline criterion of 60 minutes of physical activity daily; consequently, quantifying physical activity solely against the guidelines may underestimate children's physical activity.

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