Volume and accumulation patterns of physical activity and sedentary time: longitudinal changes and tracking from early to late childhood

Publication Name

International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity


Background: Physical activity (PA) decreases and sedentary time (SED) increases across childhood, with both behaviours tracking. However, no studies have examined how accumulation patterns of PA and SED (i.e., prolonged bouts, frequency of breaks in sedentary time) change and track over time. The aim of this study was to investigate longitudinal changes in and tracking of total volume and accumulation patterns of SED, light-intensity PA (LPA), moderate-intensity PA (MPA), vigorous-intensity PA (VPA) among boys and girls. Methods: In 2008/09 (T1), children in HAPPY (3-5y; n = 758) in Melbourne, Australia wore ActiGraph GT1M accelerometers to objectively assess SED, LPA, MPA and VPA. This was repeated at age 6-8y (T2; n = 473) and 9-11y (T3; n = 478). Ten pattern variables were computed: bouts of ≥ 5-, ≥ 10-, ≥ 15- and ≥ 20-min for SED, ≥ 1- and ≥ 5-min for LPA, ≥ 1-min for MPA, ≥ 1- and ≥ 5-min for VPA, and breaks in SED (interruptions of > 25 counts 15 s ). Longitudinal mixed models examined changes from T1-3, controlling for T1 age. Generalized estimating equations assessed tracking over the three time points, controlling for T1 age and time between measurements. Analyses were stratified by sex. Results: Total volume and bouts of SED and SED breaks increased, while total volume and bouts of LPA decreased for both sexes. There was a small decrease in total volume of MPA for girls, but time spent in ≥ 1-min bouts increased for both sexes. Total volume of VPA increased for both sexes, with time spent in ≥ 1-min bouts increasing for boys only. All volume and pattern variables tracked moderately for boys, except for all SED bouts ≥ 15-min, LPA bouts ≥ 5-min and MPA bouts ≥ 1-min (which tracked weakly). For girls, total SED and SED bouts ≥ 1-min tracked strongly, total volume of LPA, MPA and VPA, ≥ 5- and ≥ 10-min SED bouts, and ≥ 1-min LPA and MPA bouts tracked moderately, and SED breaks, all SED bouts ≥ 15 min, LPA bouts ≥ 5 min and all VPA bouts tracked weakly. Conclusions: Patterns of SED and PA change from early to late childhood; with the exception of SED breaks and VPA, changes were detrimental. Total volumes and short bouts tended to track more strongly than longer bouts. Interventions to prevent declines in PA and increases in SED are important from early in life. − 1

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Funding Sponsor

Deakin University



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