Monitoring physical activity in children
Two main research problems were addressed within this thesis. Firstly, the construction of a selfreport measure of physical activity (questionnaire) designed specifically for use with children and secondly, the use of the measure to provide information on the activity levels of a sample of British children. Every effort was made in designing the self-report, to address as many of the problems associated with the current measures as possible, and thereby to design an instrument which may improve upon existing measures. The process involved a detailed review of the literature, implementation of a number of recommendations from the literature, and a series of preliminary and pilot studies to determine the content and feasibility of the questionnaire forms and the feasibility of the administration procedures. Following the preliminary studies, the scoring procedure for the selfreport measure was developed and the final format of the questionnaire established. The final version was an interviewer administered questionnaire comprising two forms, a school day and a weekend form. Once designed, the measure was evaluated. The evaluation of the questionnaire involved studies of the validity and reliability of the measure as well as the reliability of interviewers trained to administer the questionnaire. The results of these studies proved favourable throughout and it was declared that the measure was a valid and reliable measure of physical activity. The use of the self-report measure to gather the activity information on a sample of British children in part two of the research was thus well justified. Part two of the research involved the administration of the self-report measure to gather activity information on a final sample of 199 pupils. The questionnaire was administered according to the method and protocols established in part one of the study. The findings of the study revealed the majority of the pupils to be inactive. Low activity levels were reflected in the pupils' activity scores and in the amount of time they spent in hard/very hard activity in particular. It was declared that the health of many pupils in this study may be at risk and if these findings reflect the activity levels of British children generally, then we may expect there to be serious consequences for the future health of our young population.