Cross-sectional associations between 24-hour activity behaviours and mental health indicators in children and adolescents: A compositional data analysis

Stuart J. Fairclough, Richard Tyler, Jack R. Dainty, Dorothea Dumuid, Cassandra Richardson, Lee Shepstone, Andrew J. Atkin

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We examined associations between youth 24-hour activity behaviour compositions and mental health. Data were collected from 359 participants (aged 9–13 years). Activity behaviours (sleep, sedentary time (ST), light physical activity (LPA) and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA)) were assessed using wrist-worn accelerometers. Questionnaires and a computerized cognitive test battery assessed mental health outcomes. Linear mixed models examined associations between activity behaviour compositions and mental health. Post-hoc analyses modelled the influence of reallocating fixed durations of time between activity behaviours on mental health. ST was associated with worse internalizing problems (all participants; p< 0.05) and poorer prosocial behaviour (primary school participants only; p< 0.05), relative to the other activity behaviours. LPA was associated with worse cognitive test scores among primary school participants; p< 0.05). For all participants, reallocating time to ST from sleep and MVPA was associated with higher internalizing problems. Among primary school participants, reallocating time to ST from any other behaviour was associated with poorer prosocial behaviour, and reallocating time to LPA from any other behaviour was associated with lower executive function. Children’s mental health may be promoted by schools integrating opportunities for MVPA throughout the day. Our results provide further evidence for the influence of daily activity behaviours on youth mental health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1602-1614
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number14
Early online date21 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Physical activity
  • cognition
  • mental health
  • sedentary behaviour
  • sleep

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