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Contribution of the after-school period to children’s daily participation in physical activity and sedentary behaviours

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journal contribution
posted on 2015-01-01, 00:00 authored by Lauren ArundellLauren Arundell, Trina Hinkley, Jenny VeitchJenny Veitch, Jo SalmonJo Salmon
Objectives: Children’s after-school physical activity (PA) and sedentary behaviours (SB) are not well understood, despite the potential this period holds for intervention. This study aimed to describe children’s after-school physical activity and sedentary behaviours; establish the contribution this makes to daily participation and to achieving physical activity and sedentary behaviours guidelines; and to determine the association between after-school moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA), screen-based sedentary behaviours and achieving the physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines.
Methods: Children (n=406, mean age 8.1 years, 58% girls) wore an ActiGraph GT3X accelerometer. The percentage of time and minutes spent sedentary (SED), in light- physical activity (LPA) and MVPA between the end-of-school and 6pm (weekdays) was calculated. Parents (n=318, 40 years, 89% female) proxy-reported their child’s after-school participation in screen-based sedentary behaviours. The contribution that after-school SED, LPA, MVPA, and screen-based sedentary behaviours made to daily levels, and that after-school MVPA and screen-based sedentary behaviours made to achieving the physical activity/sedentary behaviour guidelines was calculated. Regression analysis determined the association between after-school MVPA and screen-based sedentary behaviours and achieving the physical activity/sedentary behaviours guidelines.
Results: Children spent 54% of the after-school period SED and this accounted for 21% of children’s daily SED levels. Boys spent a greater percentage of time in MVPA than girls (14.9% vs. 13.6%; p<0.05) but this made a smaller contribution to their daily levels (27.6% vs 29.8%; p<0.05). After school, boys and girls respectively performed 18.8 minutes and 16.7 minutes of MVPA which is 31.4% and 27.8% of the MVPA (p<0.05) required to achieve the physical activity guidelines. Children spent 96 minutes in screen-based sedentary behaviours, contributing to 84% of their daily screen-based sedentary behaviours and 80% of the sedentary behaviour guidelines. After-school MVPA was positively associated with achieving the physical activity guidelines (OR: 1.31, 95%CI 1.18, 1.44, p<0.05) and after-school screen-based sedentary behaviours was negatively associated with achieving the sedentary behaviours guidelines (OR: 0.97, 95%CI: 0.96, 0.97, p<0.05).
Conclusions: The after-school period plays a critical role in the accumulation of children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviours. Small changes to after school behaviours can have large impacts on children’s daily behaviours levels and likelihood of meeting the recommended levels of physical activity and sedentary behaviour. Therefore interventions should target reducing after-school sedentary behaviours and increasing physical activity.



PLoS One






Article Number : e0140132

Article number



1 - 11


Public Library of Science (PLoS)


San Francisco, Calif.





Grant ID

NHMRC Project Grant 533815

Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2015, Public Library of Science (PLoS)