Localization of Physical Activity in Primary School Children Using Accelerometry and Global Positioning System

R. Bürgi*, L. Tomatis, K. Murer, E.D de Bruin

*Corresponding author for this work

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Ecological approaches have highlighted the importance of the built environment as a factor affecting physical activity. However, knowledge on children's activity patterns is still incomplete. Particularly, data on the spatial context of physical activity is limited, which limits the potential to design location-based interventions effectively. Using global positioning system (GPS) and accelerometry, this study aimed to identify locations where children engage in moderate-vigorous physical activity (MVPA).Participants included 119 children (11-14 years, 57% girls) from public schools in Winterthur, Switzerland. During a regular school week between February and April 2013, children wore an accelerometer and GPS sensor for seven consecutive days. Time-matched accelerometer and GPS data was mapped with a geographic information system and each data point was assigned to one of seven defined activity settings. Both the absolute amount of MVPA and proportion of time in MVPA were calculated for every setting. Multilevel analyses accounting for the hierarchical structure of the data were conducted to investigate any gender differences.Children achieved most MVPA on streets (34.5%) and on school grounds (33.4%). The proportion children spent in MVPA was highest in recreational facilities (19.4%), at other schools (19.2%) and on streets (18.6%). Boys accumulated significantly more MVPA overall and on other school grounds (p <0.05) and showed a significantly higher proportion of time in MVPA at own school and outside of Winterthur (p <0.05).The results indicate the importance of streets and school grounds as activity-promoting environments. The high use of streets may be an indicator for active transportation, which appears to contribute to an active lifestyle in both genders. In contrast, the school setting is more likely to encourage physical activity in boys. Recreational facilities seem to be conducive for MVPA among both genders, although infrequently visited during the week of measurement.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0142223
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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