Research Study Abstract

Compensation of Physical Activity and Sedentary Time in Primary School Children

  • Published on Jan. 31, 2014

Purpose There is considerable debate about the possibility of physical activity compensation. This study examined whether increased levels in physical activity and/or sedentary behaviour on one day were predictive of lower levels in these behaviours on the following day (compensatory mechanisms) among children.

Methods Two hundred and forty-eight children (121 boys, 127 girls) aged 8-11 years from nine primary schools in Melbourne, Australia, wore a GT3X+ ActiGraph for seven consecutive days. Time spent in light (LPA) and moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) was derived using age-specific cut-points. Sedentary time was defined as 100 counts[BULLET OPERATOR]min. Meteorological data (temperature, precipitation, daylight hours) were obtained daily and matched to accelerometer wear days. Multilevel analyses (day, child, school) were conducted using generalized linear latent and mixed models.

Results On any given day, every additional 10 minutes spent in MVPA was associated with approximately 25 minutes less LPA and 5 minutes less MVPA the following day. Similarly, additional time spent in LPA on any given day was associated with less time in LPA and MVPA the next day. Time spent sedentary was associated with less sedentary time the following day. Adjusting for meteorological variables did not change observed compensation effects. No significant moderating effect of sex was observed.

Conclusion The results are consistent with the compensation hypothesis, whereby children appear to compensate their physical activity or sedentary time between days. Additional adjustment for meteorological variables did not change the observed associations. Further research is needed to examine what factors may explain apparent compensatory changes in children’s physical activity and sedentary time.


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise


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