Renée Christine Reimer MSc Thesis Defence

Title: To what extent are movement behaviours associated with emotional well-being in grades four and five children? Results from the Optimizing Movement in Children Study

Thesis Supervisor: Dr. Eli Puterman (Kinesiology)
Committee members: Dr. Kim Schonert-Reichl (Educational and Counselling Psychology), Guy Faulkner (Kinesiology)

Chair: Dr. Andrea Bundon (Kinesiology)

Abstract: The potential mechanisms driving the optimal, healthy physical and psychological development of children have been studied extensively (Janssen et al., 2010; Milteer, Ginsburg, & Mulligan, 2012; Parfitt & Eston, 2005).  Specific movement behaviours, including physical activity, sedentary time, and sleep have been studied independently to examine their influence on health outcomes.  Emotional well-being, which encompasses a variety of psychological concepts including optimism, general self-concept, satisfaction with life, and sadness, is considered an important element in the healthy development of children (Guerra & Bradshaw, 2008).  This study examined the extent to which four objectively-measured movement behaviours – light physical activity (LPA), moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), sedentary time, and sleep – are associated with emotional well-being in a sample of grades four and five children (N = 21).  This study had three objectives: 1) to examine independent associations between four separate movement behaviours and emotional well-being, 2) to examine the relationship between one movement behaviour and emotional well-being relative to time spent in other movement behaviours using compositional analysis, and 3) to examine whether time spent in sedentary screen activities versus non-screen sedentary activities moderated the relationship between objectively-measured sedentary time and emotional well-being.  For objective 1, among the independent Spearman correlations, only MVPA was significantly and positively correlated with emotional well-being (ρ = 0.77, p < 0.001).  Using compositional analysis for objective 2, no significant relationships were found between any one of the four movement behaviours and emotional well-being relative to time spent in other movement behaviours.  Finally, for objective 3, no significant moderating effects were found for time spent in sedentary screen time versus non-screen sedentary time on the relationship between objectively-measured sedentary time and emotional well-being.  This study concluded that objectively-measured MVPA was significantly and positively associated with emotional well-being in the sample; however, future studies with a larger sample size are recommended, as these findings were limited by a small sample size.