Loughborough University
s12966-017-0526-7.pdf (1.69 MB)

Weather and children's physical activity; how and why do relationships vary between countries?

Download (1.69 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 2017-08-03, 08:45 authored by Flo Harrison, Anna Goodman, Esther M.F. van Sluijs, Lars Bo Andersen, Greet Cardon, Rachel Davey, Kathleen F. Janz, Susi Kriemler, Lynn Molloy, Angie S. Page, Russ Pate, Jardena J. Puder, Luis B. Sardinha, Anna Timperio, Niels Wedderkopp, Andy P. Jones, Lauren SherarLauren Sherar
Background: Globally most children do not engage in enough physical activity. Day length and weather conditions have been identified as determinants of physical activity, although how they may be overcome as barriers is not clear. We aim to examine if and how relationships between children's physical activity and weather and day length vary between countries and identify settings in which children were better able to maintain activity levels given the weather conditions they experienced. Methods: In this repeated measures study, we used data from 23,451 participants in the International Children's Accelerometry Database (ICAD). Daily accelerometer-measured physical activity (counts per minute; cpm) was matched to local weather conditions and the relationships assessed using multilevel regression models. Multilevel models accounted for clustering of days within occasions within children within study-cities, and allowed us to explore if and how the relationships between weather variables and physical activity differ by setting. Results: Increased precipitation and wind speed were associated with decreased cpm while better visibility and more hours of daylight were associated with increased cpm. Models indicated that increases in these variables resulted in average changes in mean cpm of 7.6/h of day length, -13.2/cm precipitation, 10.3/10 km visibility and -10.3/10kph wind speed (all p < 0.01). Temperature showed a cubic relationship with cpm, although between 0 and 20 degrees C the relationship was broadly linear. Age showed interactions with temperature and precipitation, with the associations larger among younger children. In terms of geographic trends, participants from Northern European countries and Melbourne, Australia were the most active, and also better maintained their activity levels given the weather conditions they experienced compared to those in the US and Western Europe. Conclusions: We found variation in the relationship between weather conditions and physical activity between ICAD studies and settings. Children in Northern Europe and Melbourne, Australia were not only more active on average, but also more active given the weather conditions they experienced. Future work should consider strategies to mitigate the impacts of weather conditions, especially among young children, and interventions involving changes to the physical environment should consider how they will operate in different weather conditions.


The pooling of the data was funded through a grant from the National Prevention Research Initiative (Grant Number: G0701877 (http://www.mrc.ac.uk/research/initiatives/national-prevention-research-initiative-npri/). The funding partners relevant to this award 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. This work was additionally supported by the Medical Research Council [MC_UU_12015/3; MC_UU_12015/7], Bristol University, Loughborough University and Norwegian School of Sport Sciences. We also gratefully acknowledge the contribution of Professor Chris Riddoch, Professor Ken Judge and Dr. Pippa Griew to the development of ICAD. The UK Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust (Grant ref.: 102,215/2/13/2) and the University of Bristol provide core support for ALSPAC. The CLAN study was funded by Financial Markets Foundation for Children (baseline); follow-ups were funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (274309). The HEAPS study was funded by VicHealth (baseline); follow-ups were funded by the Australian Research Council (DP0664206). The work of Flo Harrison and Esther M F van Sluijs was supported, wholly or in part, by the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence (RES-590-28-0002). Funding from the British Heart Foundation, Department of Health, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, and the Wellcome Trust, under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, is gratefully acknowledged. The work of Esther MF van Sluijs was supported by the Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12015/7). Anna Goodman’s contribution was supported by



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity






HARRISON, F. ... et al, 2017. Weather and children's physical activity; how and why do relationships vary between countries? International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 14:74.


BioMed Central © The Author(s).


  • VoR (Version of Record)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by/4.0/

Acceptance date


Publication date



This is an Open Access Article. It is published by BioMed Central under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY). Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ This paper is also co-authored by ICAD Collaborators. The ICAD Collaborators include: Prof LB Andersen, Faculty of Teacher Education and Sport, Sogn og Fjordane University College, Sogndal, Norway (Copenhagen School Child Intervention Study (CoSCIS)); Prof S Anderssen, Norwegian School for Sport Science, Oslo, Norway (European Youth Heart Study (EYHS), Norway); Prof G Cardon, Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium (Belgium Pre-School Study); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Hyattsville, MD USA (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)); Prof A Cooper, Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences, University of Bristol, UK (Personal and Environmental Associations with Children’s Health (PEACH)); Dr. R Davey, Centre for Research and Action in Public Health, University of Canberra, Australia (Children’s Health and Activity Monitoring for Schools (CHAMPS)); Prof U Ekelund, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway & MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, UK; Dr. DW Esliger, School of Sports, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, UK; Dr. K Froberg, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark (European Youth Heart Study (EYHS), Denmark); Dr. P Hallal, Postgraduate Program in Epidemiology, Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil (1993 Pelotas Birth Cohort); Prof KF Janz, Department of Health and Human Physiology, Department of Epidemiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, US (Iowa Bone Development Study); Dr. K Kordas, School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, UK (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC)); Prof S Kriemler, Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute, University of Zürich, Switzerland (Kinder-Sportstudie (KISS)); Dr. A Page, Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences, University of Bristol, UK; Prof R Pate, Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, US (Physical Activity in Pre-school Children (CHAMPS-US) and Project Trial of Activity for Adolescent Girls (Project TAAG)); Dr. JJ Puder, Service of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, University of Lausanne, Switzerland (Ballabeina Study); Prof J Reilly, Physical Activity for Health Group, School of Psychological Sciences and Health, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK (Movement and Activity Glasgow Intervention in Children (MAGIC)); Prof. J Salmon, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia (Children Living in Active Neigbourhoods (CLAN)); Prof LB Sardinha, Exercise and Health Laboratory, Faculty of Human Movement, Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal (European Youth Heart Study (EYHS), Portugal); Dr. LB Sherar, School of Sports, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, UK; Dr. A Timperio, Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Deakin University Melbourne, Australia (Healthy Eating and Play Study (HEAPS)); Dr. EMF van Sluijs, MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, UK (Sport, Physical activity and Eating behaviour: Environmental Determinants in Young people (SPEEDY)).




  • en