Research Study Abstract

Physical Activity, Sports Participation, and Physical Fitness of Children with Visual Impairments

  • Added on November 8, 2010

Low physical fitness levels have been found in children with visual impairments (VI), and it has been suggested that this is partly related to low physical activity levels (Lieberman & McHugh, 2001; Kozub & Oh, 2004). Reported data which might indicate whether there is a relation between physical activity and physical fitness in children with VI are scarce. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the physical activity level of children with VI and its association with physical fitness performance. A sample of 48 children with VI, ages 6 to 12 years, participated. Physical activity was assessed by the GT1M accelerometer, sports participation by a self-report measure (see Houwen et al., 2007), and physical fitness by the Eurofit (see Houwen et al., 2006). BMI was also determined. Partial correlation analyses corrected for age, sex, BMI, and degree of VI were used for statistics. The following accelerometer outcome variables were calculated [1] total physical activity (counts per minute), [2] number of minutes spent in sedentary activity per day, [3] number of minutes spent in light activity per day, and [4] number of minutes spent in moderate-to vigorous activity (MVPA) per day. The results of the self-report measure indicated that a large percentage (80%) of the children with VI participated weekly in sports activities. Children with VI participated primarily in individual sports with a closed (= stable, predictable) character. Despite their reported sports participation, none of the children with VI met the recommendation of being physically active for at least 60 min/day on every day of the week according to the accelerometer data (Kemper et al., 2000). With regard to associations between physical activity and fitness, it was found that total physical activity was significantly associated with sit-and-reach, standing broad jump, sit-ups, and modified 5×10-m shuttle run, indicating that children who were more active reached farther, jumped farther, performed more sit-ups, and were faster on the shuttle run than children who were less active. Percentage of time spent in sedentary activity was inversely associated with sit and reach, standing broad jump, sit-ups, and positively with the 5×10-m shuttle run. Percentage of time spent in MVPA was positively associated with sit-and-reach and sit-ups. Physical activity needs to be promoted in children with VI. Focusing on reducing time spent in sedentary activities and enhancing participation in MVPA may be successful means of promoting physical fitness in children with VI.