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Physical Activity and Inactivity and the Association with Musculoskeletal Conditions in Norwegians School-aged children - a cross-sectional Questionnaire based study

Anja Blikstad, 2014


Background: Recent studies indicate a rise in number of paediatric patients with musculoskeletal (MSK) pain. At the same time, children have increased levels of sedentary behaviour including high levels of screen time.

Objectives: Through the use of a questionnaire handed to children between 9-11years in randomly selected primary schools in Norway, the study hoped to gather information about levels and patterns of physical activity and inactivity. Information about school transportation, hours of PE at school and sports activities outside school was collected, as well as hours and type of screen time per day.

Design: Cross-sectional questionnaire based study.

Methods: The data collection took place in February 2014. A questionnaire was handed out to all children in 4thand 5thgrade of 6 randomly chosen primary school in 3 of the most populated counties of Norway. Participation was completely voluntary and parents of the children answered the questionnaire with help from their child, which was optional. Data were plotted and analysed in SPSS.


Subjects: A total of 638 questionnaires were handed out and of these, 317 subjects participated in the study,

Results: The response rate was 49.7%, of which 44% boys and 56% girls. The baseline characteristics were considered equal. Seventy-four percent used active transportation to school. Parents driving was the second most common type of transportation (17%) after walking, which was most common (63%). Almost half of the children who walked lived less than 1 km away. Seventy-five percent of children who were driven to school by their parents lived less than 3 km from school. Most children participated in PE at school (98%), with either 1 (45%) or 2 (47%) hours per week. Results showed that more boys had high levels of activity compared to girls. More than 90% participated in organised sports activities, with 68% having 3 hours or more of activity per week. However, 94% of the participants were in the “low activity” group with regards to hours of PE, and 63% were in the group of “low activity” with regards to organised sports activity. The majority of children spent between 1-2 hours in front of the computer per day (82%), and in front of the TV per day (79%). Fifty-one percent had complained about non-specific MSK pain during the past 6 months, however there was no statistical significance (p>0.05) between hours of physical activity or hours of screen time, and presence of MSK pain.


Conclusion: There was no statistically significant association between level of physical activity or level of screen time, and MSK pain. More boys had high levels of physical activity compared to girls, however consistent with results from other studies, the results showed relatively high levels of screen time compared to national recommendations.

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