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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Dietary Guidelines Adherence and Healthy Body Weight Maintenance Title: Effect of increasing the choice of active options on children’s physical activity

Authors
item Feda, Denise -
item Lambiase, Maya -
item Mccarhty, Thomas -
item Barkley, Jacob -
item Roemmich, James

Submitted to: Journal of Science and Medicine in Sports
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 12, 2011
Publication Date: July 20, 2011
Citation: Feda, D.M., Lambiase, M.J., Mccarhty, T., Barkley, J.E., Roemmich, J.N. 2011. Effect of increasing the choice of active options on children’s physical activity. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sports. 15:334-340.

Interpretive Summary: This study determined whether providing a choice of physical activity options increases the duration and intensity of children’s physical activity. Boys and girls (n = 36, 8-12 y) were assigned to a choice group that always provided access to the subjects 1, 3, or 5 most liked active toy(s), and allowed 60 min of free play. The same set of sedentary alternatives were freely available to all subjects. Physical activity outcomes were measured by accelerometry, heart rate, and direct observation. We found that the number of active toys the children played with increased (p < 0.001) across each choice group. Active play time and minutes spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity were greater in the 3- and 5-toy groups than the no choice group. Providing choice was most effective at increasing physical activity of girls. Increasing the choice of active toys increases both the duration and intensity of physical activity, especially in girls.

Technical Abstract: Objectives: To determine whether increasing the choice of physical activity options increases the duration and intensity of children’s physical activity. Design: This cross-sectional laboratory study included gender (male, female) and choice group [single toy (no choice), three toys (low choice), five toys (high choice)] as between factors. Methods: Boys and girls (n = 36, 8-12 y) were stratified, randomly assigned to a choice group that always provided access to each subject’s most liked active toy(s), and allowed 60 min of free play. The same sedentary alternatives were freely available to all subjects. Physical activity outcomes were measured by accelerometry, heart rate, and direct observation. Results: The number of active toys the children played with increased (p < 0.001) across each choice group. Minutes spent in MVPA were greater in the 3- (p < 0.05) and 5-toy (p < 0.02) groups than the no choice group. Active play time was greater (p < 0.01) in the 3 (79%) and 5-toy (95%) groups compared to the no choice group. Girls in the 3 and 5-toy groups had greater (p < 0.05) percent heart rate reserve when compared to girls in the no choice group. There was no difference in the boys’ percent heart rate reserve between the no choice, 3 and 5-toy groups. Conclusions: Increasing the choice of active toys increases both the duration and intensity of physical activity, especially in girls.

Last Modified: 12/21/2014
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