Chinese City Children and Youth's Walking Behavior

By Quan, Minghui; Chen, Peijie et al. | Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, December 2013 | Go to article overview

Chinese City Children and Youth's Walking Behavior


Quan, Minghui, Chen, Peijie, Zhuang, Jie, Wang, Chao, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport


Purpose: Although walking has been demonstrated as one of the best forms for promoting physical activity (PA), little is known about Chinese city children and youth's walking behavior. The purpose of this study was therefore to assess ambulatory PA behavior of Chinese city children and youth. Method: The daily steps of 2,751 children and youth (1,415 boys, 1,336 girls; aged 9 to 17 years old, Mage = 154.78 [+ or -] 44.63 months) from 11 cities in China were recorded using ActiGraph GT3X accelerometers for 7 consecutive days. Results: The most active walking day was on Friday (M [+ or -] SD = 11,183 [+ or -] 5,130 steps), followed by Monday (M [+ or -] SD = 10,780 [+ or -] 4,921), Thursday (M [+ or -] SD = 10,705 [+ or -] 4,607), Tuesday (M [+ or -] SD = 10,687 [+ or -] 5,038), Wednesday (M [+ or -] SD = 10,428 [+ or -] 4,697), Saturday (M [+ or -] SD = 9,734 [+ or -] 5,582), and Sunday (M [+ or -] SD = 9,303 [+ or -] 5,569). Participants walked more steps during weekdays (M [+ or -] SD = 10,615 [+ or -] 4,411) than they did during weekend days (M [+ or -] SD = 9,444 [+ or -] 5,224; t = 15.71, p < .01, d = 0.34); boys walked more steps (M [+ or -] SD = 10,847 [+ or -] 4,322) than did girls (M [+ or -] SD = 9,938 [+ or -] 4,282; t = 4.92, p < .01, d = 0.22). The most active age was 11 years old in boys (M [+ or -] SD = 12,984 [+ or -] 4,897) and 10 years old in girls (M [+ or -] SD = 11,745 [+ or -] 4,721), and older children walked fewer steps. The data suggest that depending on age (9 to 17 years old), a range of 5.71% to 35.73%, 29.70% to 56.65%, and 15.96% to 47.62% boys and 22.86% to 40.14%, 29.41% to 46.26%, and 12.94% to 40.14% girls met 3 different health-related criteria for daily steps, respectively. Conclusion: Boys walked more than girls walked, but a majority of the Chinese city children and youth did not meet the recommended health-related steps/day.

Keywords: MVPA, physical activity, public health, surveillance

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There is a consensus that physical inactivity is a risk factor to health leading to many chronic diseases including diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke, hypertension, osteoporosis, and depression (Booth, Laye, Lees, Rector, & Thyfault, 2008; Durstine, Gordon, Wang, & Luo, 2013; Owen, Bauman, & Brown, 2009). Research has shown that these chronic diseases may be due to lack of physical activity (PA) in childhood (Thomas, Baker, & Davies, 2003). It has become imperative to objectively measure and determine the amount of PA in which children and youth engage on a daily basis for health professionals to design effective intervention strategies. Because walking is the primary form of PA in many everyday life activities (e.g., going to school) as well as specialty activities (e.g., playing a sport), any assessment of PA should be sensitive to walking (Tudor-Locke, Ham, et al., 2004).

Objective measurements, such as accelerometers and pedometers, have become increasingly popular because these devices are able to capture movement behavior patterns with relative accuracy in both structured and free-living environments. With the rapid development of technology, these devices have become smaller, while the capabilities for recording data for a relatively long period of time have increased (Behrens & Dinger, 2007). These devices make it feasible to assess PA in large groups of individuals, as demonstrated in the Canadian Health Measures Survey (Colley et al., 2011a, 2011b) and the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (Troiano et al., 2008; Tudor-Locke, Johnson, & Katzmarzyk, 2010).

A number of studies have investigated steps-per-day issues in children and youth. The results have indicated that boys generally are more active than are girls (J. S. Duncan, Schofield, & Duncan, 2006; Tudor-Locke et al., 2010). In addition, normal-weight children had higher activity levels compared with overweight and obese children (Belton, Brady, Meegan, & Woods, 2010; M. …

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