Examining weather-related factors on physical activity levels of children from rural communities

Abstract

Objective

The objective was to examine the influence of weather on moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and light physical activity (LPA) levels of children aged 8–14 years from rural communities, an understudied Canadian population.

Methods

Children (n = 90) from four communities in rural Northwestern Ontario participated in this study between September and December 2016. Children’s MVPA and LPA were measured using an Actical accelerometer and demographic data were gathered from surveys of children and their parents. Weather data were collected from the closest weather station. Cross-classified regression models were used to assess the relationship between weather and children’s MVPA and LPA.

Results

Boys accumulated more MVPA than girls (b = 26.38, p < 0.01), children were more active on weekdays as compared with weekends (b = − 16.23, p < 0.01), children were less active on days with precipitation (b = − 22.88, p < 0.01), and higher temperature led to a significant increase in MVPA (b = 1.33, p  < 0.01). As children aged, they accumulated less LPA (b = − 9.36, p < 0.01) and children who perceived they had higher levels of physical functioning got more LPA (b = 25.18, p = 0.02). Similar to MVPA, children had higher levels of LPA on weekdays (b = − 37.24, p < 0.01) as compared to weekend days and children accumulated less LPA (b = −50.01, p < 0.01) on days with rain.

Conclusion

The study findings indicate that weather influences rural children’s MVPA and LPA. Future research is necessary to incorporate these findings into interventions to increase rural children’s overall PA levels and improve their overall health.

Résumé

Objectif

Examiner l’influence de la météo sur les niveaux d’activité physique modérée à vigoureuse (APMV) et d’activité physique légère (APL) des enfants de 8 à 14 ans vivant en milieu rural, une population canadienne sous-étudiée.

Méthode

Des enfants (n = 90) de quatre communautés rurales du Nord-Ouest de l’Ontario ont participé à l’étude entre septembre et décembre 2016. Leurs niveaux d’APMV et d’APL ont été mesurés à l’aide d’un accéléromètre de marque Actical, et leurs données démographiques ont été obtenues en sondant les enfants et leurs parents. Les données météorologiques ont été obtenues auprès de la station météorologique la plus proche. Des modèles de régression recoupés ont servi à analyser la relation entre la météo et l’APMV et l’APL des enfants.

Résultats

Les garçons ont accumulé plus d’APMV que les filles (b = 26,38 p < 0,01); les enfants étaient plus actifs les jours de semaine que les fins de semaine (b = -16,23 p < 0,01); les enfants étaient moins actifs les jours avec précipitations (b = -22,88 p  < 0,01); et les températures élevées étaient associées à une augmentation significative de l’APMV (b = 1,33 p < 0,01). En grandissant, les enfants accumulaient moins d’APL (b = -9,36 p < 0,01) et les enfants qui pensaient avoir des niveaux d’activité physique plus élevés accumulaient plus d’APL (b = 25,18 p = 0,02). Comme pour l’APMV, les enfants avaient des niveaux d’APL plus élevés les jours de semaine (b = -37,24 p < 0,01) que les fins de semaine, et les enfants accumulaient moins d’APL (b = -50,01 p < 0,01) les jours de pluie.

Conclusion

Les constatations de l’étude montrent que la météo influence l’APMV et l’APL des enfants en milieu rural. Il faudrait pousser la recherche pour intégrer ces constatations dans des interventions pour faire augmenter les niveaux d’activité physique globaux des enfants en milieu rural et améliorer leur santé globale.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the students, parents, teachers, principals, and school research boards. We would also like to acknowledge the dozens of research assistants from the Human Environments Analysis Lab who helped with the STEAM project.

Funding

The STEAM study was jointly funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, with seed funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Additional support was provided by the Children’s Health Research Institute and the Children’s Health Foundation.

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Correspondence to Jason A. Gilliland.

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Ethics approval was granted by the University of Western Ontario’s Non-Medical Research Ethics Board (NMREB: 108029) and the two local school boards and done in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki declaration.

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Button, B.L.G., Shah, T.I., Clark, A.F. et al. Examining weather-related factors on physical activity levels of children from rural communities. Can J Public Health 112, 107–114 (2021). https://doi.org/10.17269/s41997-020-00324-3

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Keywords

  • Rural
  • Child
  • Physical activity
  • Weather
  • North
  • Temperature

Mots-clés

  • Milieu rural
  • Enfant
  • Activité physique
  • Temps (météorologie)
  • Nord
  • Température