Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

Predisposing, Reinforcing and Enabling Predictors of Middle School Children's After-School Physical Activity Participation

Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

Predisposing, Reinforcing and Enabling Predictors of Middle School Children's After-School Physical Activity Participation

Article excerpt


Background: Children's participation in after-school physical activity can attenuate the overweight and obesity rates among rural, low socioeconomic status (SES) children. Children's individual determination, as well as social and environmental factors, can influence their behaviors. Purpose: The purposes of this study were to determine if a difference existed in after-school physical activity participation among children from different socioeconomic strata and to identify predisposing, reinforcing, and enabling predictors of after-school physical activity. Methods: A cross-sectional, descriptive research design using surveys was used with rural, middle school children. Results: Low SES children were more active than high SES children. Physical activity self-efficacy, attraction to physical activity, and access to equipment were statistically significant in predicting children's after-school physical activity level. Discussion: Interventions enhancing self-efficacy and providing enjoyable options with adequate equipment can foster children's after-school physical activity behavior. Further research however should examine reasons (e.g., farming) why low SES children reported themselves to be more active than not-low SES children; these results are contrary to results from other studies. Translation to Health Education Practice: Increasing overweight and obesity rates should prompt practitioners to consider implementing both physical activity and nutrition interventions specific to rural children.


The overweight and obesity rates among American adults and children are increasing--poor nutrition and physical inactivity are key culprits. (1) It is well documented that physical activity attenuates the overweight and obesity crises, (2-6) and has been deemed as a leading health indicator for improving our nation's health. (7) Because childhood is an important time when health behaviors are learned and adopted, (8) it is crucial that health educators promote health enhancing behaviors in this developmental stage. (9) Whereas most experts agree that children should participate in 60 minutes of daily physical activity for health benefits, the majority of children are sedentary. (10-12) Children become less active as they grow older. (13,14) Obese young people are more likely than children of normal weight to become overweight or obese adults, and therefore more at risk for associated adult health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer and psychological disorders. (15)

Research shows that, among adults, the prevalence of sufficient physical activity is lower in low socioeconomic status (SES) populations; (16,17) however, in children, the findings are less conclusive. (18-20) Whereas a child's individual determination is one predictor of behavior, (8) the influence of his or her friends or family as well as his or her environment may influence behavior as well. (21) For example, a child may want to play outside, but if his parents will not allow him to go outside or if he does not have access to a safe outdoor environment, then playing outdoors may not be possible.

By using the PRECEDE-PROCEED (22,23) educational/ecological framework to assess predisposing (e.g., knowledge, values), reinforcing (e.g., rewards and feedback from others), and enabling (e.g., skills or resources) predictors of children's afterschool physical activity, health educators can identify significant variables that increase the likelihood that behavioral and environmental changes will Occur, (24,25) then tailor interventions to best address audience needs. (26) Previous research has indicated that predisposing, reinforcing, and enabling factors predicted physical activity participation with elementary, middle and high school aged children. (26,27)


Because there is a lack of research addressing the role of socioeconomic status in children's physical activity participation, the purpose of this study was to determine whether family socioeconomic status influenced child physical activity. …

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