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Stay in or play out? The influence of weather conditions on physical activity of grade 5 children in Canada

  • Sholeh Rahman
  • Katerina MaximovaEmail author
  • Valerie Carson
  • Gian S. Jhangri
  • Paul J. Veugelers
Quantitative Research
  • 23 Downloads

Abstract

Objectives

Regular physical activity (PA) in children is essential for their development and prevention of overweight and obesity. Little is known about the effect of day-to-day variations in weather conditions on PA levels in school-aged children, particularly with regard to school compared to non-school days and girls compared to boys.

Methods

Daily step count (7:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.) from 972 grade 5 students aged 10–11 years from 60 schools across Alberta, Canada, was collected using time-stamped pedometers (minimum wear time of two school and one non-school days) during March–June 2013. Time-matched weather conditions (actual and feels-like temperature, cloud coverage, and precipitation amount) were obtained from local weather stations in Alberta during the same period. Multilevel mixed-effect regression models were used to estimate the effect of each weather condition on daily step count.

Results

A 1 °C increase in feels-like temperature was associated with 26 more steps/day (p < 0.05), while 1-unit increase in cloud coverage was associated with 61 fewer steps/day (p < 0.01). Compared to no precipitation, heavy precipitation (> 5 mm/day) was associated with 1022 fewer steps/day (p < 0.01). Students’ PA levels were associated with weather conditions more on non-school vs. school days and more among girls vs. boys.

Conclusion

Results suggest that daily weather conditions can affect PA in school children, particularly outside school hours, and should be considered when evaluating PA levels or designing interventions to promote PA in children. Findings provide support for increased investment toward creating weather-appropriate physical activity opportunities for wet and colder days to prevent PA decline in children during inclement weather conditions.

Keywords

Physical activity Weather conditions Step count School children Mixed-effect modeling 

Résumé

Objectifs

L’activité physique (AP) pratiquée régulièrement par les enfants est essentielle à leur développement et à la prévention du surpoids et de l’obésité. Les effets des variations quotidiennes des conditions météorologiques sur les niveaux d’AP des enfants d’âge scolaire sont méconnus, particulièrement entre les jours de classe et de congé et entre les filles et les garçons.

Méthode

Entre mars et juin 2013, nous avons compté le nombre de pas quotidien (entre 7 h et 21 h) de 972 élèves de 5e année de 60 écoles de l’Alberta, au Canada, âgés de 10 ou 11 ans à l’aide de podomètres avec horodateurs (portés pendant au moins deux jours de classe et un jour de congé). Les conditions météorologiques appariées dans le temps (température réelle et ressentie, couverture nuageuse et quantité de précipitations) ont été obtenues auprès de stations météorologiques locales durant la même période. Des modèles de régression multiniveaux à effets mixtes ont servi à estimer l’effet de chaque condition météorologique sur le nombre de pas quotidien.

Résultats

Une hausse d’un degré Celsius de la température ressentie était associée à 26 pas/jour de plus (p < 0,05), mais une hausse d’une unité de couverture nuageuse était associée à 61 pas/jour de moins (p < 0,01). Comparativement à l’absence de précipitations, les fortes précipitations (> 5 mm/jour) étaient associées à 1022 pas/jour de moins (p < 0,01). Les niveaux d’AP des élèves étaient plus associés aux conditions météorologiques les jours de congé que les jours de classe, et plus chez les filles que chez les garçons.

Conclusion

Les résultats montrent que les conditions météorologiques quotidiennes peuvent avoir un effet sur l’AP des enfants d’âge scolaire, surtout hors des heures de classe, et qu’il faut en tenir compte en évaluant les niveaux d’AP ou en concevant des interventions pour promouvoir l’AP chez les enfants. Ces constatations confirment la nécessité d’investir davantage dans la création de possibilités d’activité physique adaptées à la météo pour les jours de pluie ou de froid afin d’empêcher une baisse d’AP des enfants par mauvais temps.

Mots-clés

Activité physique Conditions météorologiques Nombre de pas Enfants d’âge scolaire Modélisation à effets mixtes 

Notes

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public HealthUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and RecreationUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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