JOURNAL OF SPORTS SCIENCE & MEDICINE
RELATIONS OF SELF-APPRAISAL AND MOOD CHANGES WITH VOLUNTARY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY CHANGES IN AFRICAN AMERICAN PREADOLESCENTS IN AN AFTER-SCHOOL CARE INTERVENTION
James J. Annesi1, Avery D. Faigenbaum2, Wayne L. Westcott3 and Alice E. Smith4
1Director of Wellness Advancement, YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta, 2Department of Health and Exercise Science, The College of New Jersey, 3South Shore YMCA, Quincy, MA, 4Child Health Promotion, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, USA
© Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2008) 7, 260 - 268
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|There is an increasing prevalence of overweight in preadolescents
that predicts physical problems over the lifespan. Physical inactivity has
been implicated as an associated factor, with African American youth being
at an increased risk. Based on social cognitive theory, and proposed correlates
of physical activity in youth, changes over 12 weeks in measures of self-appraisal
(general self, physical appearance, physical self-concept, exercise barriers
self-efficacy) and mood (tension, vigor), and their relations with voluntary
physical activity changes, were assessed within an after-school care physical
activity intervention. Participants were volunteers recruited from children
already registered for a 12-week segment of YMCA after-school care. The
treatment group consisted of 146 African American preadolescents with the
control group comprised of 123 African American preadolescents who were
scheduled to receive the program during the next sequence that it was offered.
Results indicated the intervention group reported significantly more positive
self-appraisals, reduced tension, and enhanced vigor. Bivariate and multiple
regression analyses indicated that when each of the 4 self-appraisal and
2 mood factors were simultaneously entered into a regression equation, 36%
of the variance in voluntary physical activity was explained. Findings support
the treatment's association with theoretically based correlates of physical
activity in the present sample, and suggest directions for physical activity
interventions for youth.
Key words: Physical activity, exercise, body mass index, youth, health behavior.
|Based on race and ethnicity, from 12 to 22% of preadolescents
in the U.S. meet the criteria for overweight, which is a body mass index
(BMI; kg/m2) > 95th percentile. Non-Hispanic African
Americans have both the highest prevalence and increase, with 36% of preadolescents
from this group classified as either at-risk for overweight (BMI of 85th
to 95th percentile) or overweight (Ogden et al., 2002).
Recent data indicate an overall 3-fold increase in overweight in Americans
of preadolescent age over the previous 25 years (Ogden et al., 2006).
Overweight in the late childhood years is particularly important because
it predicts weight problems and associated health risks through the entire
lifespan (Institute of Medicine, 2007).
Along with a diet high in fat and kilocalories, a reduction in physical
activity has been implicated as a key component (Institute of Medicine,
In 2003, only 25% of teenagers engaged in moderate amounts of physical activity
for at least 30 minutes, 5 or more days per week. African American boys
and girls participated in regular vigorous activity significantly less than
their White counterparts (Grunbaum et al., 2004).
Reasons suggested have been less access to programs, facilities, and safe
areas for play (Salmon and Timperio, 2007),
however there has been little direct testing of associated factors.
In the most recent meta-analysis of youth obesity interventions, encompassing published research between 1980 and 2005 that met stringent standards set for inclusion, 48 of 61 (79%) failed to demonstrate a statistically significant reduction in BMI (Stice et al., 2006). The overall effect size was trivial (r = 0.04). Interestingly, neither intervention program-based increases in physical activity nor dietary improvement was a significant moderator of effect sizes for BMI change. This suggested that improvements beyond the boundaries of structured programs are important.
Although it has been suggested that schools should play a large part in helping children to reach nationally established goals for physical activity (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1997), physical education (PE) has been given a low priority and, overall, is being reduced (National Association for Sport and Physical Education, 2006). Reductions in PE time are generally not made up outside of school, and more research is required regarding factors associated with increases in children's voluntary (ie, free-time) physical activity (Pate and Sirard, 2000). Despite suggestions to the contrary (Task Force on Community Preventive Services, 2002), most interventions for improving the quantity and quality of children's physical activity have been intended for application during the school day, and therefore must compete with academic and enrichment subjects for time. They have had mixed results, with applications often limited to well-controlled environments, with specialized staff, which may be difficult to replicate large-scale (Stone et al., 1998). Few interventions have been specifically tested with minority populations that are especially in need, although results could be affected by race and ethnicity.
Currently about 7 million children in the U.S. attend after-school care, with a demand far exceeding this number. Although some attempts have been made to adapt schooltime physical activity interventions for after-school care applications (Kelder et al., 2005; Nigg et al., 2004), the Youth Fit For Life protocol was specifically designed to be administered to large numbers of children by after-school counselors previously untrained in PE methods (National Cancer Institute, 2008). It was hoped that administration of this protocol would help increase total amounts of physical activity routinely completed by many children. In its initial trial of approximately 600 predominantly African American children ages 5 to 12 years, significant improvements in fitness and health-risk factors were found (Annesi et al., 2005).
Youth Fit For Life was developed using tenets of social cognitive theory, and its derivative self-efficacy theory (Bandura, 1986; 1997), which suggest that judgment of one's ability to organize and execute required actions are the foundation of motivation, well-being, and personal accomplishment. Also considered in its development were other proposed correlates of physical activity in youth, which suggest that a positive self-image and positive affect are associated with physical activity (Sallis et al., 2000). In addition to being associated with physiological improvements in body composition, cardiorespiratory endurance, and strength, the Youth Fit For Life protocol sought to increase moderate-to-vigorous physical activity voluntarily completed outside of structured settings such as PE. It was thought that only through a combination of institutionally driven, structured physical activity, and voluntary physical activities completed during free time, would children be most likely to obtain and maintain recommended amounts of at least 60 minutes per day (Strong et al., 2005). It was thought that program administration in a non-threatening, mastery-focused manner - that incorporated training in behavioral skills such as short- and long-term goal setting, self-monitoring of incremental progress, managing self-talk, and recruiting social support - would improve participants' self-management and self-regulatory abilities. This was intended to counter barriers to voluntary physical activity and positively affect identified determinants such as self-efficacy (Pate et al., 1997; Strauss et al., 2001), body image (Strauss et al., 2001), perceived competence (Boyd and Hrycaiko, 1997), self-esteem (Ferguson et al., 1989), and mood (Norris et al., 1992). Provision of behavioral skills to obtain and maintain physical activity behaviors in children has previously been given little research attention.
Presently, theory and research are unclear of possible intercorrelations in the aforementioned constructs, and their association with physical activity in youth (Stone et al., 1998). Whereas in a recent study of obese women, improvements in self-management and self-regulatory strategies to overcome barriers to exercise was the best predictor of weight loss in African American participants (when contrasted with the White participants whose changes in body satisfaction was the strongest predictor) (Annesi, 2007), generalizability of this finding to younger persons is unknown. Researchers have stated a need for extension of research on correlates of physical activity to maximize intervention effects (Baranowski et al., 1998). Although initial testing suggested that significant improvements in self-concept, self-efficacy, and mood were associated with participation in the Youth Fit For Life treatment for 9- to 12-year-olds (Annesi, 2004b; 2005), there was limited inquiry of relations of such changes with changes in voluntary, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Research on specific racial or ethnic groups was not completed. In their comprehensive review of physical activity treatments in youth, Stone et al., 1998 cited a need for research on, "…increasing out-of-school [physical] activity levels."(p. 310), and testing interventions with, "… diverse ethnic/racial groups…" (p. 311). Thus, through use of the extant research on physical activity behavior theory, determinants of physical activity in youth, and physical activity intervention, these gaps were partially addressed within this preliminary investigation. After first replicating assessment of the association of the Youth Fit For Life treatment with participants' changes over 12 weeks, relations of changes in self-description (both general and physical), self-efficacy to physically complete exercise (ie, task self-efficacy), self-efficacy to overcome barriers (ie, self-regulatory efficacy), and mood (tension and vigor); with changes in voluntary moderate-to-vigorous physical activity; were estimated. Preadolescent African Americans were assessed because of a need to understand change processes in physical activity behavior in this group with considerable need.
The following specific hypotheses were given:
1. The Youth Fit For Life program would be associated with significant improvements in the self-appraisal measures of general self, physical appearance, physical self-concept, and exercise barriers self-efficacy, and the mood measures of tension and vigor, over 12 weeks.
2. The Youth Fit For Life program would be associated with a significant increase in voluntary physical activity.
3. Significant bivariate correlations would be found between changes in each of the self-appraisal and mood measures, and changes in voluntary physical activity.
4. Accounting for changes in the 4 self-appraisal factors and, separately, changes in the 2 mood factors, would explain significant portions of the variance in changes in voluntary physical activity.
It was hoped that findings would lead to an increased knowledge of relations of psychosocial variables with physical activity in African American preadolescents, and thus contribute to the development of increasingly comprehensive theoretical models, and following, practical interventions that are more beneficial at reducing health risks.
analyses: For the treatment group, days of voluntary physical activity
per week at baseline were significantly higher for boys (M = 2.68, SD
= 2.21) than for girls (M = 1.95, SD = 1.93), t144 = 2.07,
p = 0.04. For the control group, voluntary physical activity at baseline
was also significantly higher for boys (M = 2.77, SD = 2.19) than for
girls (M = 1.97, SD = 2.03) at baseline, t121 = 2.07, p = 0.04. Boys also
had significantly higher scores at baseline on physical appearance for
both the treatment, t144 = 2.07, p = 0.04, and control, t121 = 1.98, p
= 0.05, groups. There were, however, no significant differences by sex
in score changes from baseline to week 12, on any variable under study,
for either the treatment or control groups (all p-values >0.10). Floor
and ceiling effects were not a problem. Therefore, consistent with previous
research (Annesi, 2004b;
2006), data were aggregated by sex for further analyses.
from this preliminary investigation suggested that the Youth Fit For Life
protocol was associated with a significant, moderate increase in days
of voluntary, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity completed per week,
and significant, small improvements in measures of self-appraisal and
mood, in the present sample of African American preadolescents. There
were no significant changes associated with the control condition, which
reserved time for physical activity but did not administer a structured
physical activity curriculum. This suggested that, as presented in hypothesis
1 and hypothesis 2, the Youth Fit For Life protocol induced significantly
improved feelings of self-efficacy, self-image, and mood; and increases
in freely chosen physical activity in the present sample of African American
preadolescents - a group that may be especially at risk for overweight.
|After replication with larger and different samples, and based
on the identified relationships, future physical activity interventions
may be well served to incorporate curricular components that focus on improvement
of perceptions of self-concept and self-efficacy. Comparison of the relative
efficacy of multiple treatment components for these ends may also be warranted.
The present Youth Fit For Life protocol served as an example of how structured
elements of a physical activity intervention, based on social cognitive
theory, might positively impact preadolescents' self-image, self-efficacy,
mood, and, in turn, their amounts of freely chosen physical activity. Positively
affecting voluntary physical activity may be essential if the current suggested
standards of 60 minutes per day, 5 or more days per week (Strong et al.,
are to eventually be met.
Ultimately, it is hoped that physical activity interventions may deliver effective protocols within multiple venues and in a large-scale manner, which reliably affect propensities for children to be physically active during their free time. It will also be advantageous to have reliable, easily accessed interventions with established theoretical and research bases for referral. It is hoped that through further research, physical activity amounts in youth may be systematically increased, and pathologies related to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle may be reduced.
research was supported by Grant CFDA#84.215F from the U.S. Department of
James J. ANNESI
Employment: Director of Wellness Advancement for the YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta.
Research interests: Exercise adherence treatment, health behavior change, relations of physical activity and depression, anxiety, and self-image, and the behavioral treatment of obesity.
Avery D. FAIGENBAUM
Employment: Associate Professor with the Department of Health and Exercise Science, The College of New Jersey.
Research interests: Optimal physical training in children, and reduction of pediatric health-risk factors.
Wayne L. WESTCOTT
Employment: Research Director for the South Shore YMCA, Quincy, MA.
Research interests: Strength training in athletes, special populations, and reduction of obesity and other health risks.
Alice E. SMITH
Employment: Manager of the Child Health Promotion Department of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta .
Degree: MS, MBA.
Research interests: The development of protocols for health-risk reduction in high-risk child populations.