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Physical Activity in Low Income Families

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Regardless of age, gender, or socioeconomic status, physical activity is important for physical, mental, and emotional health. There are numerous benefits of physical activity including: weight control, decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, decreased risk of type two diabetes, decreased risk of metabolic syndrome, decreased risk of some cancers, strengthening of bones and muscles, improved mental health and mood, improved ability to perform activities of daily living, increased life span, and many more.

Physical activity can be found in many forms, from going on a walk, jog, or run to participation in organized sport.

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The type of physical activity is not the focus, but rather the frequency of participation. Daily participation in physical activity is essential, especially for children. Many schools have recently struggled to implement daily physical education programs for all students due to the high demands of academic achievement. These schools are not offering comprehensive physical education programs, but are only offering the class once a week.

Due to low standardized testing scores in math, English, and science, schools feel that it is justified to cut back on the frequency of physical education sessions.

In children, it has been shown that physical activity is essential for mental, physical and emotion development (Greenberg and Silvestri, 2007). Due to the decrease in physical education sessions available in school, community based organizations are needed to offer after-school and weekend programs so that children are able to reach the recommended levels of daily physical activity (Greenberg and Silvestri, 2007).

Even with community based organizations available, low-income families may continue to struggle to reach the daily recommended levels of physical activity. These organizations are often fee-based or are too expensive for low-income families to afford. Programs such as 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Title V funds, or Title 2, and United Way programs are free of charge and often include nutritious after-school snacks for children. These programs are designed to serve the youth through federal and state grants, or even local funding (Greenberg and Silvestri, 2007).

These programs are available and accessible, you just have to research. In 1997, Johnson-Down, O’Loughlin, Koski, and Gray-Donald published “High Prevalence of Obesity in Low Income and Multiethnic Schoolchildren: A Diet and Physical Activity Assessment” in The Journal of Nutrition. The objective of the study was to assess the prevalence of obesity and under-nutrition, as well as evaluate the diet and activity patterns among children from ethnically diverse low-income urban populations. Children between the ages of nine and twelve who were students in low-income neighborhoods were studied.

Johnson-Down, O’Loughlin, Koski, and Gray-Donald measured height, weight, dietary intake, physical activity, lifestyle, and demographic characteristics. The results indicated no evidence of under-nutrition, yet 39. 4% of the students were underweight. The conclusion was that children who participated in more physical activity had significantly higher intakes of calcium, iron, zinc, and fiber, but were not heavier. In 1998, Wendell, Baranowski, and Young published “Physical Activity Interventions in Low-Income, Ethnic Minority, and Populations with Disability” in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

They were aware that low-income, as well as the other groups they observed, are more likely to be sedentary compared to the general population. In response to this knowledge, there have been interventions for inactivity targeted to these at-risk populations. Wendell, Baranowski, and Young did searches (manual and computer) to identify works published between the years 1983 and 1997. They looked at the physical activity interventions conducted in the at-risk populations. Activity and cardiorespiratory fitness were the outcome measurements in the studies reviewed.

A few results came from the fourteen studies reviewed. Increased physical activity occurred in two of the studies due to the intervention put in place, but the post-intervention follow-up for these two studies showed no significant findings. The main conclusion from the research was that an effective intervention to increase physical activity in at-risk populations, such as low-income populations, has yet to be developed. When the community is involved in the design and implementation, the intervention shows greater chances of behavioral change.

They suggest that future interventions should include three things: 1) rigorous experimental designs; 2) theoretically based interventions; 3) validated assessment instruments to detect physical activity change. In 2005, Romero published “Low-income neighborhood barriers and resources for adolescents’ physical activity” in the Journal of Adolescent Health. The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors of low-income neighborhoods and households on physical activity. A self-report survey was given to 74 middle-school aged youth from low income neighborhoods.

Vigorous exercise frequency, after-school demands, availability and quality of facilities, perceived safety, and neighborhood hazards were measured. Romero hypothesized that more frequent physical activity would be linked to better quality facilities, less demands, increased after-school programs, higher perceived safety, and more available locations. Results from this study showed that more physical activity was associated with more hours spent in after-school programs and with a perception of higher quality facilities.

They found that perception of safety at local facilities accounted for more variance compared to the perception of neighborhood hazards in the association with physical activity. This was found even after gender, age, and socioeconomic status were accounted for. The conclusion from this study was that future health programs should consider the quality, cost, and perception of safety with after-school programs in order to increase and maintain the physical activity levels in low-income youth.

In 2008, Voss, Hosking, Metcalf, Jeffery, and Wilkin published “Children from low-income families have less access to sports facilities, but are no less physically active” in Child: Care, Health and Development. They recognized the rising levels of childhood obesity and wanted to focus on physical activity and out-of-school activity. They began their research with the assumption that children from low-income families suffer most from lack of physical activity. The need for additional sport and exercise facilities, specifically in areas with a significant low-socioeconomic population was evident.

Voss, Hosking, Metcalf, Jeffery, and Wilkin began their study with the purpose of determining the relationship between parental income, the use of out-of-school sports facilities, and the overall physical activity of young children across a wide socioeconomic range. They objectively measured the total weekly physical activity of the children and distributed questionnaires to both parents and children. The children in the study were between the ages of seven and eight years old. The parents were asked to provide their income and the children’s weekly use of out-of-school facilities for physical activity participation.

Voss, Hosking, Metcalf, Jeffery, and Wilkin’s study resulted in data indicating that children from low-income families attend fewer sessions of structured out-of-school activities than those from wealthier families. This was mostly due to lack of accessibility. It was also found that there was no relationship between parental income and the mean activity level of the children. From these results, three conclusions were made. First, social inequality had little impact on physical activity in young children. Second, poorer families make less use of out-of-school facilities but they record the same overall level of activity.

Third, what children from low-income families lack in opportunity, they appear to make up in unstructured exercise. From this study, it is clear that children from low-income families are less likely to participate in structured physical activity, but they still are reaching appropriate daily levels of physical activity in unstructured settings. In 2010, Dudley et al. published “Engaging adolescent girls from linguistically diverse and low income backgrounds in school sport: a pilot randomized controlled trial” in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.

The purpose of their study was to determine the feasibility, acceptability, and potential efficacy of a school-based physical activity program among adolescent girls from low-income and predominately linguistically diverse backgrounds. Thirty-eight eleven year old girls participated in either the randomized intervention group or the control group. The intervention program was to increase physical activity by improving the enjoyment, self-perception, and perceived competence. Assessments objectively measured physical activity during school sport sessions.

Participation was 72% for intervention and only 60% for the control group. Also, the intervention group reported high levels of satisfaction with the program. After a follow-up, the girls from the intervention group showed increased levels of enjoyment of physical activity during school as well as an increase in body image. The study concluded by recognizing that confronting adolescent girls about their participation in sport can be difficult and it is necessary to have the support of teachers and parents.

In 2011, Holtz, Kingsley, Tink, and Sherer published “Benefits and challenges associated with sport participation by children and parents from low-income families” in Psychology of Sport & Exercise. There were two objectives for this study. The first was to examine low-income parents’ and childrens’ perceptions of the benefits associated with participation in youth sport. The second objective was to examine the parents’ perceptions of the challenges associated with providing their children opportunities for sport. In this study, the interpretive description qualitative approach was used.

This approach is used to generate knowledge relevant for the clinical context of applied health disciplines. It provides a logical structure and pays specific attention to disciplinary biases and commitments (Hunt, 2013). Thirty-five interviews were conducted, using nine low-income families. Both children and parents were interviewed. After the interviews, Holtz, Kingsley, Tink, and Sherer found three main results. First, parents and children reported sport participation was associated with personal and social developmental benefits.

Second, parents reported that several barriers restricted the extent to which their children could engage in sport and therefore could not gain sustained developmental benefits. Third, parents offered solutions to the problem of engaging their children in sport. The solutions provided by the parents were not disclosed. With these three results, Holtz, Kingsley, Tink, and Sherer made two conclusions. First, the findings demonstrate value and importance of providing sport to children from low-income families. Second, there is a need for increased efforts in order to overcome barriers and sustain long-term participation and benefits.

From the six studies reviewed, a few generalizations can be made. It is recognized (by parents and children) that physical activity is important for children, adolescents, and adults. It is important regardless of gender or socioeconomic status. The frequency of in-school physical activity participation is decreased in areas with low-income neighborhoods. This does not always mean that the children of low-income families are not attaining the recommended amount of physical activities. In many cases, children are substituting unstructured physical activity for structured.

There is a recognized need to increase the availability and accessibility of sport and recreation facilities in areas of low socioeconomic populations. It has also been recognized that interventions need to put in place to improve the quality, cost, and perception of safety with after-school programs. This will decrease the number of barriers and increase the frequency of physical participation in low-income families. Overall, continued research is needed to insure that children and adolescents from low-income families are able to reach the daily recommended levels of physical activity.

Literature Cited 1. Dudley D. Okely A, Pearson P, et al. Engaging adolescent girls from linguistically diverse and low income backgrounds in school sport: a pilot randomized controlled trial. J Sei Med Sport 2010;13: 217-224. 2. Greenberg, J. , Silvestri, L. (2007). Physical activity for low-income children. Journal for Physial and Sport Educators, 20(3), 35-36. 3. Holtz, N. L. , Kingsley, B. C. , Tink, L. N. , & Sherer, J. (2011). Benefits and challenges associated with sport participation by children and parents from low- income families.

Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 12, 490-499. 4. Hunt, M. R. (2013). Strengths and Challenges in the Use of Interpretive Description: Reflections Arising From a Study of the Moral Experience of Health Professionals in Humanitarian Work. Retrieved April 16, 2013, from Sage Journal website: http://qhr. sagepub. com/content/19/9/ 1284. short 5. Johnson-Down, O’Loughlin, Koski, & Gray-Donald. (1997). High Prevalence of Obesity in Low Income and Multiethnic Schoolchildren: A Diet and Physical Activity Assessment. The Journal of Nutrition, 127(12), 2310-2315. 6. Romero, A. (2005).

Low-income neighborhood barriers and resources for adolescents’ physical activity. Journal of Adolescent Health, 36(3), 253-259. 7. Voss LD, Hosking J, Metcalf BS, Jeffery AN, Wilkin TJ. (2008). Children from low- income families have less access to sports facilities, but are no less physically active: cross-sectional study (EarlyBird 35). Child: Care, Health and Development, 34,470–474. 8. Wendell, T. , Baranowski, T. , & Young, D. (1998). Physical activity interventions in low-income, ethnic minority, and populations with disability. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 15(4), 334-343.

Cite this Physical Activity in Low Income Families

Physical Activity in Low Income Families. (2016, Nov 11). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/physical-activity-in-low-income-families/

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