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Cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of active travel, organised sport and physical education with accelerometer-assessed moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in young people: the International Children's Accelerometry Database

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posted on 26.04.2022, 15:05 by Erika Ikeda, Justin M Guagliano, Andrew J Atkin, Lauren SherarLauren Sherar, Ulf Ekelund, Bjørge Hansen, Kate Northstone, Esther van Sluijs, International Children’s Accelerometry Database (ICAD) Collaborators

Background: Physical activity (PA) declines during childhood. Important sources of PA are active travel, organised sport and physical education (PE), but it is unclear how these domain-specifc PA sources contribute to (changes in) daily moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) in young people. This study aimed to examine (1) the cross-sectional association between domain-specifc physical activity (i.e., active travel, organised sport and PE) and daily minutes in accelerometer-assessed MVPA; and (2) the longitudinal association between domain-specifc physical activity at baseline and change in daily minutes in MVPA.

Methods: Participants (baseline age 11.3±.1.2 years) were drawn from three studies in the International Children’s Accelerometry Database. The contribution of self-reported standardised active travel, organised sport and PE to accelerometer-measured daily minutes in MVPA was examined using linear regression. In cross-sectional analyses, MVPA was regressed on each PA domain in separate models, adjusted for study, age, sex, maternal education, season, and monitor wear time. In longitudinal analyses, change in MVPA was regressed on each of the baseline PA domains, additionally adjusting for changes in season and wear time, follow-up duration, and baseline MVPA. R-squared was used to compare variance explained by each PA domain.

Results: In the cross-sectional analyses (n =3871), organised sport (standardised β=3.81, 95% confdence interval [95%CI]=3.06, 4.56) and active travel (β=3.46, 95%CI=2.73, 4.19) contributed more to daily MVPA than PE (β=0.82, 95%CI=-0.02, 1.66). Compared to the base model which included only covariates (R2 =21.5%), organised sport (absolute change: +1.9%) and active travel (+1.7%) models explained more of the variance than the PE model (±<0.1%). Associations followed a similar pattern in the longitudinal analyses (n =2302), but none of the PA domains predicted change in MVPA (organised sport: standardised β=0.85, 95%CI=-0.03, 1.72; active travel: β=0.68, 95%CI=-0.14, 1.50; PE: β=0.02, 95%CI=-0.87, 0.91).

Conclusions: A multi-sectoral approach covering a wide range of PA domains should be promoted to minimise the age-related decline in MVPA during childhood. 


The ICAD data pooling project and SPEEDY study for the collection of data were funded through grants from the National Prevention Research Initiative (Grant Numbers: G0501294; G0701877) (http://www.mrc.ac.uk/research/initiatives/national-prevention-research-initiative-npri/). The funding partners relevant to this award and role of the funding (i.e., data pooling and collection) are: British Heart Foundation; Cancer Research UK; Department of Health; Diabetes UK; Economic and Social Research Council; Medical Research Council; Research and Development Office for the Northern Ireland Health and Social Services; Chief Scientist Office; Scottish Executive Health Department; The Stroke Association; Welsh Assembly Government and World Cancer Research Fund. The UK Medical Research Council and Wellcome (Grant reference: 217065/Z/19/Z) and the University of Bristol provide core support for the ALSPAC study in the collection of data. The CLAN study was supported by grants from the Financial Markets Foundation for Children and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC, ID: 274309 and 374241) for the collection of data. This work was additionally supported by the Medical Research Council (Grant numbers: MC_UU_12015/3; MC_UU_12015/6; MC_UU_12015/7), the Research Council of Norway (249932/F20), Bristol University, Loughborough University and Norwegian School of Sport Sciences for the harmonisation of data in the ICAD project.

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  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity






BioMed Central


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This is an Open Access Article. It is published by BioMed Central under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0). Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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International Children’s Accelerometry Database (ICAD) Collaborators: Jo Salmon, Chris Riddoch, Ken Judge, Ashley Cooper, Pippa Griew, L. B. Andersen, S. Anderssen, G. Cardon, R. Davey, P. Hallal, R. Jago, K. F. Janz, S. Kriemler, N. Møller, K. Northstone, R. Pate, J. J. Puder, J. Reilly, J. Salmon, L. B. Sardinha & E. M. F. van Sluijs






Prof Lauren Sherar. Deposit date: 25 April 2022

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