Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

Factors Associated with Tweens' Intentions to Sustain Participation in an Innovative Community-Based Physical Activity Intervention

Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

Factors Associated with Tweens' Intentions to Sustain Participation in an Innovative Community-Based Physical Activity Intervention

Article excerpt


Background: Participation in free-time play, including individual and group activities, is important during youth as patterns of physical activity established then persist into adulthood. The VERB Summer Scorecard (VSS) intervention is an innovative physical activity promotion initiative that offers tweens (8-13 year-olds) opportunities to be active during the summer months when increased sedentariness can occur, leading to weight gain and a predisposition for further inactivity. Purpose: This study identified factors associated with intentions to participate in VSS among tweens previously exposed to the intervention. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of 1,063 middle school youth using a 39-item survey and performed a multi-level analysis. Results: Being female (OR=1.43), having tried a new physical activity (OR=1.59), not currently participating in out-of-school activities but wanting to (OR=2.60), and self-monitoring of physical activity (OR=4.42 to 7.50) were associated with future intention to participate in VSS. Discussion: Adoption of the VSS seemed to inspire some tweens to initiate and sustain activity. VSS appealed to tween girls, an especially important priority audience because of the observed tendency of girls' physical activity to decline during the teen years. Moreover, VSS offered youth the opportunity for trying a variety of games, sports, and other activities. Additionally, the tangible practice of monitoring physical activity (via the scorecard) appeared to have a favorable impact on intention to participate again in VSS. Translation to Health Education Practice: Implications for school and community based physical activity interventions include structures that incorporate trialabilty and observability as mechanisms for increasing likelihood of intervention adoption.


Physical activity is essential for good health and proper growth and development among children and youth. (1) Numerous studies have correlated higher levels of physical activity with health benefits during youth, including weight control, improved cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength, and increased bone mass. (1-8) Physical activity also contributes to psychological well-being (4,9,10) and academic achievement. (4,7,11-15) Conversely, physical inactivity is a leading modifiable risk factor for several chronic diseases and results in many long-term consequences. (4,16) Physical inactivity is associated with over weight and obesity, placing youth at greater risk for diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, asthma, arthritis, and overall poorer health status. (1,3,5-7, 17,18) These relationships demonstrate the importance of increasing the proportion of children and youth who participate in regular physical activity. (19) Due to the importance of physical activity among youth, it has been established as one of the 10 Leading Health Indicators in Healthy People 2010. (20) Six Healthy People 2010 focus area objectives have been established for physical activity among children and adolescents. (20) Unfortunately, there has been little progress in recent years toward increasing vigorous or moderately vigorous physical activity among adolescents. (21)

Youth ages 8 or 9 through 13 years of age (i.e., 3rd or 4th grade through 8th grade), often called tweens, straddle the "fence" between childhood and adolescence. (22) The tween years bring increased independence and reliance on peer support to make important lifestyle decisions, many of which affect their lives forever. (23) Tweens can be divided into two segments: emerging (ages 8-10) and transitioning (ages 11-13) to acknowledge important developmental and social changes, (23) e.g., transition from elementary to middle school.

Regarding physical activity, tweens have well-defined preferences and motivations for certain activities. (22,24-26) They enjoy activities that produce feelings of competence and success and result in increased self-esteem. …

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