The issue of low children's physical activity (PA) has been important research and
professional topic for years (and decades). Its importance increased after the restrictive
measures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (1). PA of children is crucial to the not
only physical, but also psychological, social, and cognitive health of children (2,
3). Baring this in mind, there are several gudelines and protocols which recommend
that children and youth spend a minimum of 60 min each day in moderate- to vigorous-intensity
PA [e.g., (4, 5)]. Researchers tried to explain factors that contribute to modifying
behavior (in this context, health behavior) and factors that contribute to formulation
of different conceptual models (Bandura's social learning model, Rogers' Innovation
Diffusion Theory, etc.) Contemporary society needs a particular scientific focus on
the issue of establishment of effective strategies for promoting health-enhancing
physical activity for children (6). Explanation of the mechanism of the impact of
children's PA and socially appropriate behavior on health is essential for improvement
of social interventions strategy. Effective strategies for improving childrens PA
and adapting an active lifestyle reduce the spread of mass non-communicable diseases
and children's antisocial behavior. Therefore, adopted patterns of children's active
behavior can impact their habits over the upcoming years (7).
The topic provides high-quality research on promotion of health-enhancing children's
PA, which can offer guidelines for researchers and policymakers at local, regional,
national, and international levels. These guidelines can contribute to social intervention
by encouraging children's PA with the active role of a certified institution (families,
schools, sports organizations, and local communities).
Contribution to the field
This Research Topic has been proposed due to challenges for improvement of children's
socially relevant health behavior. It aims to identify existing changes in behavior
relevant to health, where PA is an important factor for the change of children's lifestyle.
The editorial aimed to scientifically present strategies associated with health-enhancing
children's PA and to choose intervention methods for promotion of children's healthy
lifestyles. The purpose of the Research Topic was to contribute to cutting-edge knowledge
in explaining effective strategies for promoting health-enhancing children's PA. The
outcome of this Research Topic is 18 published articles which contribute to the mentioned
field from different research aspects.
General insight into the Research Topic shows that the authors of the published manuscripts
paid attention to various effective strategies that increase children's PA related
to health: (1) active transport to school, (2) family interventions, (3) interventions
in school settings and inclusive school environment, (4) academic performance, (5)
impact of the geographical and living environment, (6) effectiveness of adequate sport
or recreational programs, (7) motor coordination programs improvement, (8) sedentary
patterns and health-related physical fitness, and (9) mediator role of sleep.
Firstly, Huang et al. presented valuable findings on the association between active
travel to school (ATS) and PA and screen time by individual and parental characteristics
among Chinese adolescents. The authors concluded that ATS is a helpful approach in
promotion of PA, determined by personal (gender, age, living environment) and parental
characteristics (parental educational level and occupations). Yesiltepe et al. considered
that cycling, as a way of active transport opportunity, is an individual and social
contribution to public health, environmental protection, and climate change control.
Therefore, current pandemic conditions could contribute to faster acceptance of cycling
as a win-win strategy for individuals, families, and communities. Continuation of
that segment of the green agenda and adequately responding to pandemic issues could
be children's using outdoor space as an effective solution for PA practice, especially
in urban environments proposed by Ma et al. Additionally, the research conducted by
Planinšec et al. emphasized that researchers and decision-makers should create and
develop an effective strategy for promotion of health-enhancing children's PA in case
of similar situations or future lockdown.
Huang et al. conducted a meta-analysis about family interventions to PA and sedentary
behavior. Authors included studies published in 2012 and later. They considered the
role model of family members to their children and saw family interventions as a promising
way of promoting children's PA. Additionally, a systematic review examined PA levels
of children and adolescents with or without autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in inclusive
schools by Li et al.
Liang et al. emphasized the mediating role of sleep between PA and executive function
in children with attention to deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as an essential
factor of effective strategies in children's PA Therefore, regular sleep patterns
represent a quality base for human health and maintenance of homeostatic needs.
Furthermore, two studies confirmed the significant influence of children's PA on increase
of their academic performance (Durić et al.). A systematic review by Petrigna et al.
identified that the time spent in PA could encourage their cognitive development and
indirectly impact improving academic performance and motor competencies. Learning
through movement is suggested as an effective, low-cost, and enjoyable strategy for
elementary schoolchildren. On another side, one study (Aleksić Veljković et al.) showed
that children's participation in yoga intervention programs increases their motor
skills but not their cognitive abilities.
Additionally, when it comes to improvement of motor competencies and health-enhancing
children's PA, some studies revealed potential programs that should consist of directions
related to gender (Zhang et al.), as well as age and gender (Battaglia et al.), living
setting, geographical area, and gender (Gallotta et al.). Progression in physical
fitness could be expected with the addition of exercise sessions more than the regular
PA curriculum. Therefore, the physical fitness of adolescent girls can be improved
with additional school interventions (on the top of regular school physical education
activities) by Petrušič et al.
However, the main concern and potential problems are shown in research by Giuriato
et al. Namely, authors speculate that nowadays, young people achieve fewer motor experiences
than peers in the past, with geographical and sociocultural determinants. Consequently,
decreasing sedentary time and promoting physical benefits during sedentary breaks
sounds like a possible effective strategy in changing sedentary time patterns proposed
by Lu et al. The research conducted by Al-Daghri et al. is compatible with previously
mentioned research. It showed that childhood obesity and pediatric metabolic syndrome
(MetS) have steadily increased during the last decade in Saudi Arabia. The authors
presented results of intervention programs to prevent cardiometabolic disorders in
Arab youth and reported that those programs had modest effects due to COVID-19 imposed
lockdowns. Finally, research designed by Feng et al. presents a study protocol article
with an in-depth description of the intervention, which is based on a three-arm randomized
controlled trial, which will comprise a 12-week intervention and a 12-week follow-up.
Authors expect that the proposed study will improve preschoolers' movement behaviors
and health outcomes, as well as their parents' movement behaviors.
This Research Topic aimed to identify the effective strategies and good practices
for promoting health-enhancing physical activity in childhood. This is due to the
fact, that society needs an adequate strategy in maintaining an increasingly active
lifestyle for children. This type of societal intervention requires support from institutions
from different levels: from the individual (home, family level) to sports organizations
(group level) to and finally to the local communities (societal level).The various
articles put out on this research topic indicate the complexity of children's activation
in physical activity in contemporary society. Implementation of suggested strategies
for promoting health-enhancing children's PA is determined by using the comprehensive
knowledge and its implementation in family, school settings, sports organizations,
and local environments. It can be further developed in different contexts to adapt
to conditions that must be fulfilled. It seems that more effective strategies nowadays
than ever require the inclusion of more community campaigns, improving access to physical
activity infrastructure, and involving more sectors.
RM drafted the editorial. SP, IM, IV, and KA revised and approved the final version.
All authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version.
This editorial has been part of the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education project
(Reg. No: 142-451-2596/2021) that were financed by the Provincial Secretariat for
Higher Education and Scientific Research and also the editors gratefully acknowledge
above mentioned secretariat.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that the research was conducted without any commercial or financial
relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily
represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the
editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim
that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.