Are adolescents less physically active in the summer?

Are adolescents less physically active in the summer?

Download the lay summary.
Download the lay summary.

By: James F. Sallis, Terry L. Conway, Kelli L. Cain, Carrie Geremia, Edith Bonilla, Chad Spoon, University of California San Diego

Children and adolescents gain more weight in the summer than the school year. African American and Latino youth gain more weight in the summer than do youth from other racial or ethnic groups. Some studies have found that youth are less physically activity in the summer, which is surprising because they are not required to sit for many hours in school during the summer. It is unknown whether this seasonal difference varies across race, ethnic, and sex subgroups. The aim of this study was to examine race/ethnic and sex differences in adolescent physical activity, sedentary behavior, and related variables, comparing the school year and summer.

Download the lay summary.

Results

Physical activity

Physical activity rates declined from school year to the summer among all race/ethnic groups and both sexes. Daily physical activity amounts dropped by an average of 14 minutes per day. There were significant racial/ethnic differences in the decline:

UCSD Lay Summary Figures
  • American Indians showed the greatest decline, about 27 min/day, and White non-Hispanics showed the least decline, about 5 min/day. This may be due partly to American Indians being the most active, and White non-Hispanics being the least active, during the school year.
  • The school year to summer decline tended to be greater among boys (17 min/day) than girls (10 min/day), though girls were consistently less active than boys.
  • American Indians, Latinos, and girls were the least active groups in the summer, indicating these subgroups are at particularly high risk.

Sedentary (sitting) time

All racial and ethnic groups were sedentary between 8 and 9 hours per day, which did not differ from the school year to the summer. All groups of adolescents reported more screen time in the summer, except for American Indians. Perhaps screen time increased during summer because enforced sitting time during school was replaced by more screen time in the summer.

Enjoyment of physical activity

All subgroups of adolescents reported less enjoyment of physical activity in the summer. This is a possible explanation of lower physical activity in the summer. Virtually all physical activities are with peers during the school year, so the greater difficulty of organizing activities with peers in summer could reduce enjoyment of summer activities.

What activities do adolescents prefer in the summer?

Walking was the most preferred physical activity across all subgroups and seasons. Exercise (perhaps interpreted as dance exercise) and running were highly rated by all race/ethnic groups, and girls showed strong preferences for water play.

Where do adolescents prefer to be active in the summer?

When asked where they would ideally like to do physical activity, in and around the home were rated highly regardless of season, except for Latinos and White non-Hispanics. Other top choices of places to be active in summer varied across subgroups, although swimming pools were a top choice among Latinos, White non-Hispanics, and girls. Asian/Pacific Islanders and boys preferred indoor recreation facilities. American Indians’ top-rated location was parks outside the neighborhood.

Findings from this lay summary are available in the full article, published in Preventive Medicine:

Sallis, JF, Conway TL, Cain KL, Geremia C, Bonilla E, & Spoon C. Race/ethnic variations in school-year versus summer differences in adolescent physical activity. Preventive Medicine. 2019; 129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.105795.

Suggested Citation for Lay Summary:

Sallis JF, Conway TL, et al. Are Adolescents Less Physically Active in the Summer? What are Differences by Race, Ethnicity, and Sex? A Lay Summary. San Diego, CA: Physical Activity Research Center and University of California San Diego; 2019. Available at: https://paresearchcenter.org/are-adolescents-less-physically-active-in-the-summer/

This lay summary was made possible with funding from the Physical Activity Research Center. The research that generated the lay summary was led by Drs. James F. Sallis and Terry L. Conway from the University of California San Diego.

Creative Solutions at the Heart of Rural Communities: Interview with M. Renee Umstattd Meyer

Views from the Front Porch: Rural Physical Activity

Full blog originally posted to the JPHMP Direct website.

Views from the Front Porch: Rural Physical Activity

PARC’s co-Director Renee Umstattd Meyer recently sat down with JPHMP Direct and Christiaan Abildso to participate in the podcast Views from the Front Porch: Rural Physical Activity.

In her interview, Renee discussed her passion for rural active living and the JHU-Baylor PARC research study on rural Play Streets.

Both Christiaan and Renee got to sit out on their own front porches and discuss this important topic. Check out the video or audio recording!

Rural Play Streets Guide

Implementing Play Streets in Rural Communities

Download the Guide for free.

By: Keshia M. Pollack Porter, PhD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University and M. Renée Umstattd Meyer, PhD, MCHES, Baylor University

Originally posted to the Baylor University website.

Play Streets — place-based interventions that involve temporarily closing streets to create safe places and free opportunities for physical activity –are a great way to engage youth and families, get people active, and promote community connections. The Guide to Implementing Play Streets in Rural Communities provides guidance and recommendations to community groups, schools, faith-based institutions, or other organizations, on how to plan and put on a Play Street in rural communities based on first-hand experience from community partners in rural Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas.

What you will find in the Guide

The Guide is a terrific resource on how to adapt Play Streets from urban settings, where they are typically implemented, to rural settings, and informs each step of the implementation process: what happens before, during, and after a Play Street. The guide also includes examples and feedback from organizations that hosted Play Streets in rural communities, including challenges they faced and overcame, as well as resources like advertisement templates.

In addition to the Guide, you can also find the entire Post Play Streets Form and Template to help with evaluation.  Please feel free to download/use this form for your own Play Streets.

For more information, please contact Dr. M. Renée Umstattd Meyer at 254-710-4029 or Renee_Umstattd@baylor.edu.

If you are interested in learning more about the research related with this project please reference the following scientific articles:

Bridges C. N., Prochnow T. M., Wilkins E. C., Pollack Porter K. M., & Umstattd Meyer M. R. (2019). Examining the implementation of Play Streets: A systematic review of the grey literature. Journal of Public Health Management & Practice. https://doi.org/10.1097/PHH.0000000000001015.

Umstattd Meyer M. R., Bridges C. N., Schmid T. L., Hecht A. A., & Pollack Porter K. M. (2019). Documenting how Play Streets impact opportunities for play, physical activity, and environments: A systematic review. BMC Public Health, 19:335. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-6609-4

This guide was made possible with funding from the Physical Activity Research Center. The research that generated the guide was led by Drs. Keshia Pollack Porter from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and M. Renée Umstattd Meyer from Baylor University. Contributing authors to the guide included Christina Bridges Hamilton, Tyler Prochnow, Tom Schmid, Emily Wilkins, and ChangeLab Solutions.

Suggested Citation:
Pollack Porter KM, Umstattd Meyer MR, et al. Guide to Implementing Play Streets in Rural Communities. San Diego, CA: Physical Activity Research Center, Johns Hopkins University and Baylor University; 2019. Available at: https://www.baylor.edu/publichealth/RuralPlayStreetsGuide

Connect with the Play Streets team on Facebook

Share how your community is using the Guide on Facebook at fb.me/PlayStreets4All.

Physical Activity in California Out-Of-School Time Sites Certified by the Distinguished After School Health Program

Findings and Implications for Future Policy Efforts

Read the full report.

Physical activity helps children stay physically fit, and reduce the risk for obesity, anxiety and other chronic diseases. Current U.S. guidelines call for children to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily but they are far from meeting these goals. With over 10 million children attending afterschool programs in the U.S. each year, including about 1.6 million in California alone, out-of-school time (OST) programs offer a promising setting for increasing children’s physical activity.

The California Distinguished After School Health (DASH) Recognition Program was the first state-legislated voluntary recognition program in OST focused on healthy eating and physical activity. Out-of-school time programs in California elementary and middle schools serving a high proportion of children from low-income families were eligible for the DASH Program to promote healthy eating and physical activity. The program included certification that participating programs met 10 program standards in health education, healthy eating, nutrition education, physical activity and screen time.

This study evaluated the policy for quality and technical assistance issues in delivering physical activity in DASH-certified programs. The primary research questions focus on understanding (1) how programs that apply for DASH certification differ from non-applicants on a range of characteristics and practices, (2) why some programs decide not to apply, and (3) identifying technical assistance needs to improve DASH compliance.

Key findings

  • The most common physical activity session length was 30-35 minutes in which 36% of the time (or approximately 10 minutes) was spent on instruction and management and not on physical activity.
  • The longer the session, the more MVPA time we observed, with boys being more active than girls. This finding is consistent with earlier studies of physical education, which have also shown that children typically attain MVPA for less than half of each class, and that boys are more active than girls (e.g., Lonsdale et al., 2013; McKenzie et al., 2004; Nader, 2003).
  • Observations and staff interviews at DASH certified sites suggest that the amount of physical activity varies among sites. Some staff interpreted the DASH standard as a guideline for session length rather than for children’s activity time per se, and others noted that variation in children’s motivation and ability, session content, weather and other factors were influential.

Implications

During our evaluation, the program was allowed to sunset for a range of reasons, including concerns that relatively few programs applied to it and that quality was difficult to validate. Support for continuing DASH was also low due to its isolation from other related quality improvement legislation and its lack of funding for capacity building.

Although DASH ended, efforts to improve physical activity in OST are ongoing in California and other states. Findings from this study reinforce that, in order for children to receive adequate MVPA at OST programs, policies should:

  • Include field-tested, clear language that clearly communicates whether time requirements refer to activity time offered or achieved;
  • Facilitate access to training and technical assistance on how to maximize activity time, reduce management and instruction time, and ensure girls and boys are equally active;
  • encourage physical activity periods that are long enough to accommodate instruction while Allowing children to accrue adequate MVPA; 
  • Include a mechanism for ongoing quality assurance; and
  • Allow for modest levels of day-to-day variability at the classroom and child level, without allowing that variability to weaken activity goals.

Download the 17-page full report (PDF) and 2-page lay summary (coming soon).

Learn more about the project and research team here.

Suggested Citation:
Wiecha J & Rineer J. Physical Activity in California Out-of-School Time Sites Certified by the Distinguished After School Health Program (DASH): Findings and Implications for Future Policy Efforts. Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI International; 2019. Available at: https://paresearchcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/PARC_RTI_DASH_Report_June.2019.pdf.

Evidence to Inform a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy

Evidence to Inform a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy

By: Angie Cradock ScD, MPE , Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Jessica Barrett, MPH, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Tony Hull, BA, Civil Street Solutions; Billy Fields, PhD, Texas State University

Originally posted to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health website.

Read the full report.

In the United States, few people regularly use physically active modes of transportation like walking or cycling to get to work or school. Might increasing the investment in pedestrian and cycling programs encourage more active modes of transportation? This study uses national data on financial investment in pedestrian and bicycle programs and infrastructure to evaluate the evidence for how funding can support more walking and cycling over time.

This study used data from the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey to look at how people ages 16 and older got to and from work over time between 2000 and 2016 in counties with populations of at least 100,000 people. The authors calculated how much total federal transportation funding was used to support projects for cycling and walking in all U.S. counties from 2000 and 2015, classifying some as high investment counties and others as low investment counties. Authors looked in depth at data from 104 counties. High investment counties spent five to six times as much as low-investment counties did on bicycle and pedestrian projects. The researchers then analyzed these data to determine changes over time in the proportion of workers traveling on foot or bicycle within both low investment and high investment counties.

Read the brief summary.

Key findings from the study included:

  • Nationally, the proportion of total federal transportation funding allocated specifically for cycling and pedestrian investments has increased over time from 0.1% of total transportation funding allocation in FY 1992 to 2.2% of total transportation funding allocation in FY 2015.
  • Locally, the allocation and use of federal funding for cycling and pedestrian investments is variable across counties in the U.S.
  • The share of commuters cycling to work increased on average in counties between 2000 and 2016.
  • The increases were greater in those counties with high levels of bicycle and pedestrian funding compared to counties with low levels of funding.

In conclusion, many communities may not invest sufficiently to support growth in cycling and walking for transportation, recreation or exercise. Federal funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects can play a role in increasing the proportion of workers using a bicycle to get to and from work.

Download the full infographic.

The findings in this research summary are based on the results of a project commissioned by the Physical Activity Research Center (PARC) focused on addressing research gaps related to policies aimed at helping children achieve a healthy weight.

Suggested Citation:
Cradock AL, Barrett J, Hull T, Fields W. Evidence to Inform a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy. Boston, MA: Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; 2019. Available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/prc/projects/communities-research/evidence-to-inform-a-cycling-and-walking-investment-strategy.

Address correspondence to Angie Cradock, ScD, MPE at acradock@hsph.harvard.edu.

Best Practices in Engaging Public Health in Complete Streets

Public Health Engagement in Complete Streets Initiatives: Examples and Lessons Learned

By: Christina Sansone, MPH, Jill Sadowski, and Jamie F. Chriqui, PhD, MHS, UIC Institute for Health Research and Policy

Researchers at the Illinois Prevention Research Center’s Physical Activity Policy Research Network+ (PAPRN+) Collaborating Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and Institute for Health Research and Policy have released a new report entitled, Public Health Engagement in Complete Streets Initiatives: Examples and Lessons Learned. The report shares strategies, lessons learned, and case studies of how public health agencies, practitioners, and advocates have successfully engaged with their planning, transportation, and public works’ counterparts on Complete Streets policy making and related initiatives. Information for the report was obtained through key informant interviews and Internet research for 15 jurisdictions across the United States. One of the key features of the report are 2-page profiles on each jurisdiction, which include:

Read the full report.
  • Summaries of how the public health sector has engaged on Complete Streets initiatives and other agencies that they have worked with on this issue
  • Key lessons learned through their experiences
  • How they have prioritized equity
  • A timeline of their Complete Streets-related policy making, initiatives, coalitions, etc
  • Links to their policies, guidelines, plans, etc.

Funding for this study was provided by a sub-award from the Physical Activity Research Center (PARC) and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the Illinois Prevention Research Center Physical Activity Policy Research Network+ (PAPRN+) Collaborating Center.

Decisions to Act: Investing in Physical Activity to Enhance Learning and Health

Decisions to Act: Investing in Physical Activity to Enhance Learning and Health

By: Emma V. Sanchez-Vaznaugh, Maria Acosta, and Sally J. Geisse, San Francisco State University 

Every child deserves to lead a healthy, productive life. Research shows that health and education are connected—healthy students achieve more in school, and more education leads to a healthier, longer life. School-based physical activity (PA), including physical education (PE) has been linked with multiple learning and health benefits, including improved brain function, academic performance, heart health and body weight. Current US guidelines recommend that children engage in at least one hour of PA each day, but most do not. Schools can play a critically important role in this regard, yet few schools provide students the minimum recommended amount of daily PA. We have limited knowledge about how schools, especially low-resourced schools, focus on and implement strategies to help children be active.

This study investigated why and how a group of PA-supportive elementary schools prioritize and implement PA strategies to help students reach the minimum recommended amount of daily PA.

Results

The main reason schools make PA a priority is because PA helps advance learning and health goals. The study participants mentioned they know from research and from direct experience (e.g., as teachers, principals) that PA can yield multiple learning-related benefits, including better focus in class and improved test scores. Additionally, PA is seen as a strategy to help reduce obesity and inactivity, improve physical, mental and behavioral health, and social and emotional learning. One respondent shared “You got to exercise their brains!”

A number of critical factors enable schools to strategize and put PA activities into action.

  • Policies and standards for PA and PE reinforce the importance of PA.
  • A culture of learning and health that considers PA as integral to learning and health.
  • Acceptance that PA adds value.
  • Funding and resources often drive decisions to put PA strategies in practice.

Recommendations

The results offer critical insights for policy and decision-makers to increase PA and PE in schools across the nation.

  • Policymakers can strengthen policies regarding PA/PE by including requirements for funding allocations, guidelines for implementation and compliance measures.
  • Everyone, including policymakers, advocates, schools and school districts, should create and foster a culture of learning and health that embraces the multiple benefits of PA.
  • Funding agencies can offer grants and technical assistance to support grant writing for low-resourced schools.
  • Schools and school districts can foster collaboration and networking. This includes ensuring that time and resources are available, such as professional development opportunities and conferences related to PA, for staff and community members to share ideas and use resources effectively.

Download the Report

A 14-page full report (PDF) and 2-page lay summary (PDF) are available.

NRPA Open Space Radio Features PARC

NRPA Open Space Radio Features PARC

The following blog post is reprinted from Open Space, the official blog and podcast of NRPA. 

Does Our Built Environment Impact Our Health Behaviors? — Episode 028

By Cort Jones | Posted on October 22, 2018

On today’s episode of Open Space Radio, we’re joined by Aaron Hipp, an Associate Professor of Community Health and Sustainability at NC State University’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management.

Aaron is currently conducting research on topics such as how, where, and why our public built environments impact health behaviors such as physical activity and recreation, and the effect of the environment where we spend most of our time, such as work, school and sleep, on leisure time physical activity.

On the show, we discuss how, statistically, children and people of color have the lowest rates of physical activity as compared to other demographics, and this lack of physical activity has large implications on the health outcomes of communities of color. We examine why these disparities in physical activity exist between demographics, and how parks and improved accessibility to them can be used to close this gap.

We also take a look at Aaron’s work on a study through the Physical Activity Research Center (PARC), which is focused on understanding how parks are used by children in communities of color. The study focused on evaluating park use through observation, intercept surveys and community surveys.

Aaron also gives some advice on how a time and resource limited agency can perform this type of research through:

  • Not being afraid to move forward
  • A systematic/purposeful approach
  • Partnerships/collaborations

Listen to the episode for the full story.

Observations on Observations: Studying How Children Use Parks

Observations on Observations: Studying How Children Use Parks

By: The NC State team (Floyd, Hipp, Marquet, Mazak, Alberico, Huang)

In cities across the country, public parks and playgrounds provide opportunities to increase routine physical activity among children during non-school hours. Because neighborhood parks are widely available and affordable, their potential to encourage children to be more active is particularly important in low-income communities of color. The NC State team for the Physical Activity Research Center (PARC) has been observing, surveying, and objectively quantifying use and physical activity across parks in New York City. NY, and Raleigh and Durham, NC.

Across four months in 2017 our team observed more than 50,000 people using 20 different New York City parks. For consistency we used the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities, or SOPARC. Parks were observed during the school year (spring) and summer, weekdays and weekends, mornings, afternoons, and early evenings. We did not observe the entirety of each park, but instead pre-selected specific areas heavily used by children and youth (playground equipment, splash pads, basketball courts, etc.). Observations were brief scans of each of these areas once every 15 minutes for 2-3 hours per visit. We noted activity level (sedentary, moderate, or vigorous), gender, age group, race/ethnicity (White, African American, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, and other/unsure. We worked with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and used US Census data to identify parks in lower income neighborhoods with high proportions of either Asian Americans or Latino/Hispanic populations and parks with at least one playground and sports court/fields.

As PARC focuses on kids between 5 and 10 years of age, we want to share our observations on observing children across all these days; 79 unique days in fact. Over 16,500 children were observed during this study. Each momentary scan averaged over 1.5 children per area observed, or 56 children observed per hour. Playgrounds had the most children and there were more in the parks from 6-7pm than any other time (10am, 3pm, 3:30pm). More children were observed in parks during the school year than the summer, and more on weekend observations than weekdays. Areas of the park where organized activities were occurring or were in the shade were more popular than those not organized or in full sun.

Most children were active during the observations (69%). Activity differed little across parks. Non-shaded areas were a little more active than shaded, perhaps accounting for activity on larger sporting courts and fields like soccer and basketball. Swing sets were also high in physical activity with children often vigorously pumping their legs to go higher and higher.

The parks and playgrounds we observed in New York City were well used. Across all visits, children were present over 60% of the momentary scans of playgrounds. Kids ran from playground area to swings to splash areas while parents, guardians, or older siblings sat nearby in the shade. During one observation, a parks staff member brought out bouncy balls, cones, and hula hoops, just setting these in the middle of the playground area. He did not provide instructions, but allowed the children to use the equipment as they wanted. A hula hoop competition ensued in one corner followed by the use of a hula hoop set on cones as a sort of basketball hoop with children running around and throwing the balls toward the hoops while others blocked their shots. Also anecdotally we saw families spending multiple hours in the parks during the summer, especially those parks featuring splash areas for the kids.

In the highly dense environments of New York the space of a park and playground and even the simplest of play equipment kept the parks well used across the four months of observations.

2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) Data Released

2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) Data Released

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided the below highlights from the data on nutrition, physical activity and chronic conditions.

The 2017 YRBSS examines overall trends in 121 health-related behaviors of students in grades 9-12 plus obesity, overweight, and asthma. 

Most high school students are not meeting the recommended guidelines for daily physical activity.

  • Seventy four percent of high school students are not getting 60 minutes or more of physical activity per day.
  • Fifty percent more students are spending three or more hours per day playing video games or spending leisure time on a computer than getting at least one hour of physical activity. This includes using smartphones and tablets but does not include additional time spent watching tv. The prevalence was higher among black (47.2%) and Hispanic (45.4%) than white (40.7%) students.

There is room for improvement in healthy eating for students and large racial disparities exist.

  • There is a slight decrease from 2015 (57.8%) in students that had at least one sports drink the week before the survey, but 52.3% of students had at least one that week.
  • Forty percent of high school students are not eating even one vegetable each day. The prevalence of not having eaten vegetables one or more times per day was higher among black students (50.6%) than Hispanic (43.9%) or white (37.2%) students
  • Not enough students are starting their day ready to learn with only 35.3% of students eating breakfast every day. The prevalence of having daily breakfast was higher for white students (38.1%) than black (28.7%) or Hispanic (31.7%) students.

Obesity and overweight remains high among high school students and racial disparities persist.

  • More than one-third of students had obesity or were overweight (30.4%). The prevalence of obesity or overweight was higher among Hispanic (37.7%) and black (36%) students than white (26.5%) students.
  • Nationwide, 47.1% of students were trying to lose weight. The prevalence of trying to lose weight was higher among Hispanic (55.4%) than white (45.1%) and black (42.3%) students.

A majority of high school students are still not getting enough sleep at night.

  • Seventy-four percent of students are not getting recommended 8 hours of sleep each night.
  • The prevalence of getting 8 or more hours of sleep was higher among 9th-grade (34.8%) than 10th-grade (26.6%), 11th-grade (21.4%), and 12th-grade (17.6%).

Many students come to school with a health condition, like asthma, and they need help managing it.

  • Twenty two and a half percent (22.5%) of students have been diagnosed with asthma by a health care provider.
  • The prevalence of having ever been told by a health care provider that they have asthma was higher among black (29.8%) than white (20.9%) and Hispanic (21.1%) students

Schools have a unique and important role to play in addressing the health-related behaviors of all students. Schools can:

  • Teach and provide students with opportunities to improve their dietary and physical activity behaviors to establish lifelong habits.
  • Provide healthy and enriching alternatives to screen-time (playing video games, watching TV, using smartphones and tablets) through beneficial afterschool options.
  • Support healthy sleep for students by adopting later start times for high school.
  • Support student health, learning and attendance by providing case management and adopting policies to help students manage conditions, like asthma, at school.

View all of the YRBSS results here.