Exercise as it relates to Disease/Does incorporating more physical activity into everyday lifestyle improve body composition, thyroid function, and structure in obese children?

This is an analysis of the journal article ‘parent participation plays an important part in promoting physical activity’ by Anna-Karin Lindqvist,Catrine Kostenius,Gunvor Gard and Stina Rutberg (2015) [1]

What is the background to this research?[edit]

Physical activity (PA) is a large factor in keeping fit and healthy for all individuals. For health benefits, young people aged 13–17 years should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity everyday as this reduces health diseases such as diabetes/cancers and can reduce the risk of death.[2]

Physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death due to non-communicable disease worldwide, contributing to over three million preventable deaths annually (6% of deaths globally).[3] This number is going to rise if not attended to and one way this can be done, is through education to new generations.

Physical inactivity is estimated to be the main cause for approximately 27% of diagnosed diabetes [3] and globally the world is struggling with obesity as the United States rate of childhood obesity is expected to reach 40% in the next two decades and type 2 diabetes is expected to affect 300 million people worldwide within the same time.[3] This highlights the need for education in order to keep the adolescent children of the world healthy for the future. Other people’s behavior is a large factor in the success of education and lifestyle change.[1]
The power that parents and other close relations have on the physical activity of an adolescent child impacts the child’s future and overall health, this emphasizes the need for education to avoid preventable illness’ or deaths.[1]

Where is the research from?[edit]

The research was conducted in school in Northern Sweden by Lindqvist, Mikaelsson, Westerberg, Gard, & Kostenius in 2014.[1]

What kind of research was this?[edit]

This inductive qualitative approach is a reliable
research as the results did not differ from others proving that: Parents model behaviors for their children, engage in activities with them, monitor their children’s behaviors, and provide support and encouragement that can result in behavior change and positive health outcomes.[4]

What did the research involve?[edit]

The intervention was based around improving physical activity in the adolescent and young youth and was based at a school where everyone was of equal or similar age with a positive working environment. The program was separated into stages to ensure all involved were progressing successfully.

Positive communication:

It started with children writing down a goal that they have for PA. They then paired up and agreed to send a positive text message per day to each other to encourage physical activity. A brochure was sent out to the parents promoting and educating parents about the importance of physical activity and exercise. The brochure used headlines such as ‘Why is it good to be physically active?’ And ‘How can parents support PA?’.[1]


The parents that agreed to participate in the intervention group were invited to contribute in a qualitative study; 10 parents approved to be interviewed. These were the parents of six boys and four girls with varying PA levels.[1]

The interviews were conducted within 2 months of the completion of the intervention in a room with no distractions. They lasted around 30-60 mins and done by a professional that had no connection to the students.

This qualitative approach is non invasive and is successful in the intervention as the text messages and interviews provide a positive influence on increasing physical activity.

What were the basic results?[edit]

The results were positive as there was an increase in PA of 4.9 min per day.[1] The intervention was a success as not only the children had an increase in their own physical activity but the parent also experienced and increase in their own physical activity behaviours.

The interviews had encouraging results such as ‘“fun” which was an important factor in motivation as well as ‘It was important that the adolescents found it enjoyable’.[1] This highlights the importance of support such as parents when being involved in positive lifestyle changes.

The study had connections between screen time and PA as every additional hour committed to PA was associated with 32 min less screen time and was more pronounced in obese adolescents, who averaged 56 min less screen time.[1]
This furthermore highlights the support needed for adolescent children of todays to participate in physical activity and arguing that parents should be involved to support the lifestyle change.

What conclusions can we take from this research?[edit]

The adolescent children of todays society are more sedentary, for example only 15% of boys and 10% of girls at age 15 achieve the recommended levels of PA 7 days per week in Sweden [1] and in Australia Physical inactivity is the second greatest contributor, behind tobacco smoking, to the cancer burden in Australia.[3] This can indicate that an intervention is needed globally to increase the PA of the youth. Results are positive as parents noticed an increase in their child’s physical activity when the intervention concluded. They also mentioned that ‘the increased PA had led to positive effects on their adolescents’ energy levels, their ability to concentrate and learn in school, enhanced self-confidence, and improved mood’.[1] The school based environment was a large influence as the interviews were positive stating that, ‘it reached every student regardless of their life circumstances as it provided the opportunities, equipment and facilities’.[1]
The intervention was successful and a positive step forward for the health of youth and not only their future, but also the future of their parents as this study noted how their own PA behavior and actions as a positive role model influenced their adolescents’ PA.[1]


The research has shown exercise interventions appear to be successful in promoting physical activity is youth, although the study has some limitations that question the reliability such as:

  • Self report
  • Mobile phones
  • Number of subjects participating in research

Future studies could incorporate objective measures such as organised PA classes.

Other readings[edit]


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