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Objectively Measured Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

McCoy, Stephanie (2016) Objectively Measured Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Low levels of physical activity and high levels of sedentary behavior are of public health concern in children. However, little is known about the patterns of physical activity and sedentary behavior in 6-11-year-old children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). PURPOSE: To examine patterns of physical activity and sedentary behavior in children with ASD. To examine relationships between moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and sedentary behavior and potential determinants of these behaviors. METHODS: Nineteen children 6-11-year-olds with ASD were recruited. Height and weight were objectively measured and used to determine BMI for age, and participants wore an ActiGraph GT3X activity monitor for 7 consecutive days to measure physical activity and sedentary time. Parents answered questions on demographics, perceptions of physical activity, barriers to child’s physical activity, child’s autism severity, and functional disability. RESULTS: Fifty percent of children achieved the guidelines for physical activity in children. Participants spent on average 76 ± 48 minutes per day engaged in MVPA, and 332 ± 65 minutes per day sedentary. There no differences between weekday and weekend MVPA, nor weekday and weekend sedentary time. Twelve participants were classified as normal weight, 4 participants were classified as overweight, and 3 participants were classified as obese. There were no differences between prevalence rates of overweight or obesity in our sample compared to national averages. No relationships were found between MVPA and sedentary time and any independent variables examined. However, qualitatively, the most common parent-reported barriers to children’s physical activity were child’s lack of interest, inadequate community physical activity programs, behavioral problems, not being able to find a community program that accommodates their child’s physical disability, and child is too developmentally disabled. CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that barriers commonly reported by parents of children with ASD may serve as targets for creating physical activity programs adapted for this population. Further, over 90% of participants wore the monitor over 12 hours on 7 days. Thus, these findings suggest that an activity monitor worn around the waist for one week is a feasible option for the measurement of physical activity and sedentary behavior in this population.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
McCoy, Stephaniestm77@pitt.eduSTM77
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairJakicic, Johnjjakicic@pitt.eduJJAKICIC
Committee CoChairGibbs, Bethanybbarone@pitt.eduBBARONE
Committee MemberRoss, Sharonseross@pitt.eduSEROSS
Committee MemberKokina, Anastasiakokina@pitt.eduKOKINA
Committee MemberHanden, Benjaminbhanden@pitt.eduBHANDEN
Date: 11 August 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 28 July 2016
Approval Date: 11 August 2016
Submission Date: 5 August 2016
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 161
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Health and Physical Activity
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: physical activity, autism spectrum disorder, autism, sedentary behavior, obesity, children
Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2016 14:03
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:35


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