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Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318183389d
Basic Sciences

Physical Activity and Motor Skills in Children with and without Visual Impairments

Houwen, Suzanne1,2; Hartman, Esther1; Visscher, Chris1,2

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Abstract

Purpose: To examine the physical activity levels of children with and without visual impairments (VI). We further investigated 1) whether degree of VI was associated with activity level, 2) whether body composition was associated with activity level, and 3) whether interrelationships existed between activity level and motor skill performance.

Methods: Ninety-six children with and without VI, ages 6 to 12 yr, attending mainstream schools participated. Physical activity was assessed by the GT1M accelerometer and motor skill performance by the Test of Gross Motor Development-2. Body composition was also determined.

Results: Total activity [counts per minute (cpm)] was significantly higher in children without VI than in children with VI, 578.1 versus 473.2 cpm. Time spent in sedentary and light behaviors averaged 81.4% and 15.9% in the children with VI and 78.1% and 18.6% in the children without VI, with significant between-group differences. Participation in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) was significantly higher in children without VI versus children with VI. Degree of VI, body mass index (BMI), and percent body fat were correlated with time spent in sedentary and light activity in children with VI. Time spent in sedentary activity was inversely correlated with locomotor and object control scores in children with VI. Light activity was positively associated with locomotor scores; total activity and MVPA were positively associated with object control scores. For children without VI, total activity and time spent in MVPA were positively associated with locomotor scores, and time spent in sedentary activity inversely associated with object control scores.

Conclusions: The present results emphasize the importance of promoting an active lifestyle in children. Special attention has to be paid to children with lower visual acuities and children with higher BMI.

© 2009 American College of Sports Medicine

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