Original Research

Understanding physical activity patterns among rural Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal young people

AUTHORS

Rona Macniven1 PhD, Research Fellow *

Justin Richards2 PhD, Research Fellow

Nicole Turner3 BNutrDiet(Hons), Nutritionist and Adjunct Associate Professor

Steve Blunden4 GradDipHealth Admin, Chief Executive Officer

Adrian Bauman5 PhD, Professor

John Wiggers6 PhD, Professor

Josephine Gwynn7 PhD, Lecturer

AFFILIATIONS

1 Prevention Research Collaboration, Sydney School of Public Health and Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, Sydney Medical School, Level 6 The Hub, The Charles Perkins Centre (D17), The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia; and School of Public Health and Community Medicine, The University of New South Wales, Kensington, NSW 2052, Australia

2, 5 Prevention Research Collaboration, Sydney School of Public Health and Faculty of Health Sciences, Level 6 The Hub, The Charles Perkins Centre (D17), The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

3 The University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia

4 Hunter New England Local Health District, Locked Bag 1, New Lambton NSW 2305, Australia

6 The University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia; and Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia

7 Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, Sydney Medical School, Rm 224 Edward Ford Building A27, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia; Casino Aboriginal Medical Service, 43 Johnston Street, Casino, NSW 2470, Australia; and Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

ACCEPTED: 26 May 2019


early abstract:

Introduction: Physical activity across the lifespan is essential to good health but participation rates are generally lower in rural areas and among Aboriginal Australians. Declines in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) commence before adolescence but descriptive epidemiology of patterns of physical activity among Aboriginal children is limited. MVPA variation by season, setting and type at two time points among rural Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australian children was examined.

Methods: Children aged 10-14 years in 38 schools in two rural New South Wales towns during 2007/8 (T1) and 2011/12 (T2) self-reported time spent engaged in MVPA for different types, settings and seasons, totalling 14 components: organised; non-organised; club; school; travel to/from school; after school; weekend; in both summer and winter. Linear Mixed Models assessed MVPA mean minutes and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children and between-group mean differences over time.

Results: A total of 1545 children (246 Aboriginal) at T1 and 923 children (240 Aboriginal) at T2 provided data. Overall MVPA, travel to/from school (summer and winter) and after-school activity (winter)  declined over time in both groups (≤0.005). Significant declines occurred in non-organised, school (summer and winter) and organised (winter) activity among Aboriginal children only. There were differences according to Aboriginality from T1 to T2for school (summer and winter; p<0.001), weekend (summer; p=0.02) andwinter organised (winter; p<0.001) activity.

Conclusions: While overall physical activity declines occurred between 2007/8 (T1) and 2011/12 (T2) in both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal rural-dwelling children, declines in particular components of physical activity were greater among Aboriginal, compared to non-Aboriginal, children. A multi-strategic, holistic approach to increase physical activity during the critical time of adolescence is necessary.