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The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12889-015-2093-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
JL, KDM and RP conceived the study. SDB was responsible for data collection, data processing and writing of the manuscript. SDB, JL and JS contributed to the statistical analysis. JS, JL, RP and KDM critically revised the manuscript for intellectual content and writing. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
An important but often ignored aspect of physical activity (PA) and sedentary behavior (SB) is the chronological succession of activities, or temporal pattern. The main purposes of this study were (1) to investigate when certain types of PA and SB compete against each other during the course of the day and (2) compare intensity- and domain-specific activity levels during different day-segments.
The study sample consists of 211 children aged 10–14, recruited from 15 primary and 15 secondary schools. PA was assessed combining the SenseWear Mini Armband (SWM) with an electronic activity diary. The intensity- and domain-specific temporal patterns were plotted and PA differences between different day-segments (i.e., morning, school, early evening and late evening) were examined using repeated-measures ANCOVA models.
Physical activity level (PAL) was highest during the early evening (2.51 METSWM) and school hours (2.49 METSWM); the late evening segment was significantly less active (2.21 METSWM) and showed the highest proportion of sedentary time (54 % of total time-use). Throughout the different day-segments, several domains of PA and SB competed with each other. During the critical early-evening segment, screentime (12 % of time-use) and homework (10 %) were dominant compared to activity domains of sports (4 %) and active leisure (3 %). The domain of active travel competed directly with motor travel during the morning (5 % and 6 % respectively) and early-evening segment (both 8 %).
Throughout the day, different aspects of PA and SB go in competition with each other, especially during the time period immediately after school. Detailed information on the temporal patterns of PA and SB of children could help health professionals to develop more effective PA interventions and promotion strategies. By making adaptations to the typical day schedule of children (e.g., through the introduction of extra-curricular PA after school hours), their daily activity levels might improve.