Physical fitness, body composition and pedometer measured physical activity in children in a rural Manitoba community

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Kozera, Tanya R.
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A child’s level of physical activity is an important component of that child’s health. Our understanding of physical activity patterns in children is limited in rural settings, and virtually absent for climates with snow cover. Opportunities for physical activity intervention need to be identified. PURPOSE: Investigation of the relationships between pedometer-measured physical activity, body composition and aerobic performance in rural children in the winter and examination of within-day variation in stepping behavior using interval pedometry. METHODS: Aerobic performance (20 m shuttle run) with “talk test” validation and body composition (BMI, BF) were measured during mid-winter during the school year in 8 to 10 year old children. Pedometer step counts were recorded at 6 intervals throughout the day for 7 days. RESULTS: Fifty-six subjects (22 males and 34 females, mean age 9.09 (0.49), had the following measurements; BMI 17.9 (3.3), BF% 24.3 (9.5) (tricep/calf), 10,465 (±2506) steps/day, VO2 45.12 ml/kg/min (±2.87), shuttle run stage 3.0 (±1.34). Weekday steps/day (11,422 ±2573) were greater than weekend (8,112, ±3499) steps/day for both boys and girls (p<0.01). Town children recorded 1800 more steps/day than out of town children (p<0.01). All measures of body composition were found to be significantly related to aerobic power (p<0.01). Weekday steps were related to aerobic performance. The fittest (upper 1/3) children were leaner and had more afternoon school steps, and higher afternoon school step rates. CONCLUSION: Daily step counts were 2000-4000 steps lower than other studies and may be an impact of winter in Manitoba or the rural setting. This was consistent with overall low aerobic performance and higher adiposity of the children. Interval pedometry was capable of identifying differences in activity patterns between most and least fit children in rural Manitoba providing for targeted intervention strategies.
pedometer, climate, physical activity, shuttle run test, step-rate