Physical activity declines during youth but most evidence reports on combined moderate and vigorous-intensity physical activity. We investigated how vigorous-intensity activity varies with age. Cross-sectional data from 24,025 participants (5.0-18.0 y; from 20 studies in 10 countries obtained 2008-2010) providing ≥ 1 day accelerometer data (International Children's Accelerometry Database (ICAD)). Linear regression was used to investigate age-related patterns in vigorous-intensity activity; models included age (exposure), adjustments for monitor wear-time and study. Moderate-intensity activity was examined for comparison. Interactions were used to investigate whether the age/vigorous-activity association differed by sex, weight status, ethnicity, maternal education and region.
A 6.9% (95% CI 6.2, 7.5) relative reduction in mean vigorous-intensity activity with every year of age was observed; for moderate activity the relative reduction was 6.0% (5.6%, 6.4%). The age-related decrease in vigorous-intensity activity remained after adjustment for moderate activity. A larger age-related decrease in vigorous activity was observed for girls (- 10.7%) versus boys (- 2.9%), non-white (- 12.9% to - 9.4%) versus white individuals (- 6.1%), lowest maternal education (high school (- 2.0%)) versus college/university (ns) and for overweight/obese (- 6.1%) versus healthy-weight participants (- 8.1%). In addition to larger annual decreases in vigorous-intensity activity, overweight/obese individuals, girls and North Americans had comparatively lower average vigorous-intensity activity at 5.0-5.9 y.
Age-related declines in vigorous-intensity activity during youth appear relatively greater than those of moderate activity. However, due to a higher baseline, absolute moderate-intensity activity decreases more than vigorous. Overweight/obese individuals, girls, and North Americans appear especially in need of vigorous-intensity activity promotion due to low levels at 5.0-5.9 y and larger negative annual differences.
- Motor activity