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Accelerometer-derived Physical Activity Levels And Transport To School Among A Population-based Sample Of Norwegian 6-year-olds
- Presented on May 30, 2013
Large scale studies investigating physical activity level in the young population often include children and adolescents in the age range 9 to 15 years. However, less is known about the physical activity level of 6-year-olds. Active commuting, such as walking or cycling to school, has been promoted as a potential source of children’s daily physical activity. There is a lack of data describing transport patterns in the youngest school children.
Purpose The purpose of this study was two-folded: 1) to describe accelerometer derived physical activity, and, 2) to describe mode of transport to school in a population-based sample of 6-year-olds in Norway.
Methods Data were collected in 2011 as a part of the “Physical Activity in Norwegian Children Study – part 2”. A total of 1,071 6-year-olds (545 girls and 526 boys) from all regions in Norway were included, giving a response rate of 56%. Physical activity was assessed by using ActiGraph GT3X+ accelerometers for seven consecutive days. Mode of travel to school was investigated by questionnaire. Parents were encouraged to help the children to fill out the questionnaire.
Results The mean (SD) physical activity level was 731 (200) counts/min among girls and 817 (216) counts/min among boys (p<0.001). There was no difference in mean physical activity level during weekends and week days in neither girls nor boys. Further, 87% of girls and 96% of boys met the recommended 60 minutes of activity of at least moderate intensity each day (p<0.001). No significant differences in frequency of travel modes were found between girls and boys. Traveling by car was the most common mode of traveling to school (41.8%), followed by walking (41.4%), traveling by bus/train (14.4%) and cycling (2.4%). Most participants using active commuting had a journey of less than 15 min to school (71.4%), while 26.5% had a journey that lasted between 16 and 30 min.
Conclusions The majority of the six-year-olds fulfill physical activity recommendations. However, the results showed that only four out of ten children had an active travel to school. Establishing behavior that encourages physical activity early in life is important. Active commuting is one such behavior, and attention should therefore be drawn to promote active commuting to school among six-year-olds.