Social and Environmental Correlates of Physical Activity of Children

Brian Butki, Colorado State University, USA

Theme: Exercise and health behaviors

Poster Number: 29

Program ID: POS-1

Presentation: October 3, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


Physical inactivity in children is a significant and ubiquitous health problem. A comprehensive understanding of the factors that influence a child’s level of physical activity is necessary to develop effective interventions. Although the research examining the correlates of children’s physical activity has demonstrated a complex interaction between various correlating factors, we still do not have a complete understanding. The aim of this study was to investigate details of social, environmental and behavioral factors that affect youth physical activity behaviors. A 22-item survey was administered to 218 summer camp participants (ages 7-12), assessing four key factors: i) self-reported physical activity level, ii) peer relations, iii) parental relations, and iv) environmental factors. Correlational and factor analyses were conducted to examine relationships between factors. Several significant relationships emerged, as did several interesting trends. The strongest predictor of activity level was the environmental availability of equipment; followed by peer co-activity. Several other factors were also noted that influence physical activity levels. Although not statistically significant, parental encouragement, parental activity, and peer encouragement were all important secondary factors. The variables most correlated to physical activity (amount of exercise equipment available and peer physical activity participation with youth) are novel findings and are modifiable factors. These findings give an impetus to conducting prospective studies and interventions directed towards youth recreational physical activity at home and in school environments. Future research suggestions and ideas for interventions are advanced.

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