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Girls’ Physical Activity Levels during Organized Sports in Australia


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: January 2013 - Volume 45 - Issue 1 - p 116–122
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31826a0a73

Purpose The primary aim of this study was to objectively examine the physical activity (PA) levels of girls during organized sports (OS) and to compare the levels between games and practices for the same participants. The secondary aims of this study were to document lesson context and coach behavior during practices and games.

Methods Participants were 94 girls recruited from 10 teams in three OS (netball, basketball, and soccer) from the western suburbs of Sydney. Each participant wore an ActiGraph GT3X monitor for the duration of one practice and one game. The System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time was concurrently used to document lesson context and coach behavior.

Results Girls spent a significantly higher percentage of time in moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) during practices compared with games (33.8% vs 30.6%; t = 2.94, P < 0.05). Girls spent approximately 20 min·h−1 in MVPA during practices and approximately 18 min·h−1 in MVPA during games. An average of 2957 and 2702 steps per hour were accumulated during practices and games, respectively. However, girls spent roughly two-thirds of their OS time in light PA or sedentary. On the basis of the System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time findings, coaches spent a large proportion of practice time in management (15.0%) and knowledge delivery (18.5%). An average of 13.0 and 15.8 occurrences per hour were observed during games and practices where coaches promoted PA.

Conclusions For every hour of game play or practice time, girls accumulated approximately one third of the recommended 60 min of MVPA time and approximately one quarter of the 12,000 steps that girls are recommended to accumulate daily. For this population, OS seems to make a substantial contribution to the recommended amounts of MVPA and steps for participating girls. OS alone, however, does not provide amounts of PA sufficient to meet daily recommendations for adolescent girls.

1School of Science and Health, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, AUSTRALIA; and 2Department of Human Nutrition, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS

Address for correspondence: Richard R. Rosenkranz, Ph.D., Department of Human Nutrition, 201 Justin Hall, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506; E-mail:

Submitted for publication April 2012.

Accepted for publication July 2012.

©2013The American College of Sports Medicine