Seasonal changes in objectively measured sedentary behavour and physical activity in Japanese primary school children

Chiaki Tanaka, John J. Reilly, Maki Tanaka, Shigeho Tanaka

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Background: The recent prevalence of obesity in Japanese children is much higher compared to 1980. The present study compared daily sedentary behavior (SB) and physical activity (PA) between the school year and summer vacation in Japanese primary school children.
Methods: Participants were 98 Japanese boys (8.9 ± 1.8 years at baseline) and 111 girls (9.1 ± 1.8 years). SB and PA were measured in May (school term) and July/August (summer vacation), 2011. SB and PA were assessed using a triaxial accelerometer (Active style Pro HJA-350IT, Omron Healthcare) for 7 consecutive days. The average number of minutes spent in SB (no more than 1.5 metabolic equivalents (METs)), light intensity activity (LPA; more than 1.5 to less than 3.0 METs) and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA; 3.0 METs or more), and step counts were calculated for each individual. Moreover, the determinants/moderators of changes in SB and PA were examined.
Results: Daily SB was significantly higher in the summer vacation than in the school year for both boys and girls (p < 0.05). Ambulatory and total LPA and MVPA, non-ambulatory LPA and step counts were lower in summer vacation in both genders (p < 0.001). Moreover, non-ambulatory MVPA was significantly lower in the summer vacation than in the school year for girls (p < 0.001). The decrease in non-ambulatory MVPA in boys and increase in SB in girls were significantly lower in those who participated in sports compared to those who did not (p < 0.040 or p < 0.033). The change in SB for boys was significantly associated with having a TV in the bedroom (p < 0.022).
Conclusions: These findings show that primary school children in Japan are less active in the summer vacation, as indicated by both higher SB and lower LPA and ambulatory MVPA in both genders. Moreover, the seasonal change in non-ambulatory MVPA for Japanese children was affected by gender. This study also suggests that sports participation and bedroom TV ownership may moderate seasonal changes in PA and SB. The results emphasize the need to take summer vacation into account when planning interventions aimed at decreasing SB or increasing PA in Japanese children.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sep 2016


  • activity pattern
  • summer vacation
  • accelerometry

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