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Article

Physical Activity, Sport and Physical Education in Northern Ireland School Children: A Cross-Sectional Study

1
Centre for Exercise Medicine, Physical Activity and Health, Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute, Ulster University Jordanstown Campus, Shore Road, BT37 0QB Newtownabbey, Ireland
2
Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, University of Limerick, V94 T9PX Limerick, Ireland
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Physical Activity for Health Research Cluster, University of Limerick, V94 T9PX Limerick, Ireland
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Health Research Institute, University of Limerick, V94 T9PX Limerick, Ireland
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Performance Department, Swim Ireland, Sport HQ, D15 F2CC Dublin, Ireland
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School of Health and Human Performance, Dublin City University, D15 F2CC Dublin, Ireland
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School of Education, Sports Studies and Physical Education, University College Cork, T12 KX72 Cork, Ireland
8
Claddagh Statistical Consultancy Services, Shannon & [email protected], University of Limerick, V94 T9PX Limerick, Ireland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(18), 6849; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186849
Received: 20 August 2020 / Revised: 11 September 2020 / Accepted: 16 September 2020 / Published: 19 September 2020
Internationally, insufficient physical activity (PA) is a major health concern. Children in Northern Ireland (NI) are recorded as having the lowest levels of PA in the United Kingdom (UK). To date, validated and representative data on the PA levels of NI school children are limited. The aim of this study was to provide surveillance data on self-reported PA, sport and physical education (PE) participation of school children in NI. Differences between genders and factors associated with PA were also examined. A representative sample of primary (n = 446) and post-primary (n = 1508) children was surveyed in school using validated self-report measures. Findings suggest that PA levels are low, with a minority of children (13%) meeting the PA guidelines (primary pupils 20%, post-primary pupils 11%). NI school children have lower levels of PA, PE and sports participation than UK and European peers. A trend of age-related decline across all the domains of PA was apparent. The data presented highlighted that females are less likely to achieve PA guidelines, children from lower socio-economic background participate in school and community sport less often, and that enjoyment and social support are important variables in PA adherence. Policy solutions that would support implementation e.g., mandatory minimum PE time, whole school approaches to PA promotion and targeted investment in schools, particularly in areas of deprivation and for females, are suggested. View Full-Text
Keywords: youth; school-aged children; adolescents; physical activity; physical education; sports participation; school sport; community sport; enjoyment; social support youth; school-aged children; adolescents; physical activity; physical education; sports participation; school sport; community sport; enjoyment; social support
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MDPI and ACS Style

Connolly, S.; Carlin, A.; Johnston, A.; Woods, C.; Powell, C.; Belton, S.; O’Brien, W.; Saunders, J.; Duff, C.; Farmer, O.; Murphy, M. Physical Activity, Sport and Physical Education in Northern Ireland School Children: A Cross-Sectional Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 6849. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186849

AMA Style

Connolly S, Carlin A, Johnston A, Woods C, Powell C, Belton S, O’Brien W, Saunders J, Duff C, Farmer O, Murphy M. Physical Activity, Sport and Physical Education in Northern Ireland School Children: A Cross-Sectional Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(18):6849. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186849

Chicago/Turabian Style

Connolly, Sinead, Angela Carlin, Anne Johnston, Catherine Woods, Cormac Powell, Sarahjane Belton, Wesley O’Brien, Jean Saunders, Christina Duff, Orlagh Farmer, and Marie Murphy. 2020. "Physical Activity, Sport and Physical Education in Northern Ireland School Children: A Cross-Sectional Study" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17, no. 18: 6849. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186849

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