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Influence of quality physical activity in childhood on sport and physical activity later in life (2006-2009)

François Trudeau, Louis Laurencelle & Roy J. Shephard -Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières



School physical education has influences on the total time of physical activity in youth and is becoming the predominant if not their exclusive source of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. It is also an environment for the socialisation and the «tracking» of sport and physical activity habits. The main objective of our research program is to explore how and why daily physical education during childhood and other early events can influence physical activity and sport behaviour later during adolescence and adulthood.

Participants were either from an experimental group that benefited from 5 h physical education per week vs, a control group with the normal program during primary school (40 min) during the year 1970 to 1977. They filled out questionnaires on exercise, including questions on physical activity frequency, attitudes, barriers and intention and participated to in-depth, semi-structured ethnographic interviews with the experimental and control participants previously involved in the Trois-Rivières study, to document 1) the meaning they give to physical education and sport for themselves and their children and 2) critical incidents and periods known to affect physical activity and sport. At this moment we have analyzed data for 49 participants. Preliminary results indicates: 1) that the majority of participants, either from the experimental or the control group wants an increase of time for school physical education, 2) advantages in term of measured PA and sport participation in experimental 35 years old women in 1995-96 disappeared and 3) there is trend for a higher rate of sport participation in the experimental group (72.73% vs. 64.71%). The absence of significant difference could be partially explained by the end of the experimental program at the transition from primary to secondary school, where a tremendous decline in PA has been observed by many authors.

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