Authors: Alysia Cohen, Heidi Wegis, Darren Dutto, Viktor Bovbjerg
Alysia Cohen, PhD, ATC, CSCS
1435 Village Drive
Ogden, UT 84408
Alysia Cohen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Athletic Training at Weber State University.
The Role of Organized Youth Sports in Reducing Trends in Childhood Obesity
Purpose: To examine physical activity (PA) levels of children playing youth sports and the relationship of recommended levels of PA to contextual factors of the organized youth sports environment that may boost fitness and health during childhood and adolescence. Methods: Accelerometer-measured PA was obtained from 167 children (85 male, 82 female) aged 7-13 years. Sport contextual factors were recorded via direct observation of 29 coaches. PA levels were examined by age, gender, and between group variability. Direct observation intervals were analyzed by category using the Chi-square statistic for degree of association to moderate-to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA). Results: On average children spent 21.9 ±7.9 minutes in MVPA during sport practices (< 50% of practice time). Proportion of practice time MVPA was lower among females (28.7 ± 7.2%) than males (35.0 ± 9.1%). Proportion of practice time MVPA was higher among children (male and female) aged 7-9 years (32.6 ± 1.4%) compared to children aged 10-13 years (30.66 ±1.25%). Longer practice times were not shown to increase the proportion of time spent in MVPA. The most frequently observed sport activities were sports drills (51.6%), activities involving all players (37.8%), management/general instruction (52.3%), and proximal positioning of the coach (99.5%). Management and general instruction coaching behavior was not significantly associated with MVPA but did consume a prominent proportion of practice time. Health-related fitness activities made up 1.7% of practice time. Conclusions: In comparison with recommendations, youth sports appear active, however, a large portion of practice time is sedentary suggesting room for improvement. Including fun non-specific or specific sport activities that promote participation from all players and increase heart rate. Fun play experiences during sport practices may encourage greater in active play within and outside of sport with behaviors persisting into adolescence and adulthood. Applications in Sport: Training coaches to teach fun sport activities that engage all players would improve within practice active time and enjoyable experiences that may promote future participation in sport or activity outside of sport.(more…)