Original Research

Physical activity and sedentary behaviour of primary school learners in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa

Howard Gomwe, Eunice Seekoe, Philemon Lyoka, Chioneso S. Marange, Dennyford Mafa
South African Family Practice | Vol 64, No 1 : Part 2| a5381 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v64i1.5381 | © 2022 Howard Gomwe, Eunice Seekoe, Chioneso Show Marange, Philemon Lyoka, Dennyford Mafa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 August 2021 | Published: 22 March 2022

About the author(s)

Howard Gomwe, Department of Teaching, Learning and Community Engagement, Faculty of Health Sciences, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Medunsa, South Africa
Eunice Seekoe, Department of Teaching, Learning and Community Engagement, Faculty of Health Sciences, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Medunsa, South Africa
Philemon Lyoka, Department of Nursing Science, Faculty of Health Science, University of Fort Hare, East London, South Africa
Chioneso S. Marange, Department of Statistics, Faculty of Science, University of Fort Hare, East London, South Africa
Dennyford Mafa, Department of Social Science, Faculty of Humanities, University of Fort Hare, Alice, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: This study was designed to assess physical activity (PA) levels and sedentary behaviour amongst primary school learners in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was adopted to assess the patterns and levels of PA and sedentary behaviour using the Physical Activity Questionnaire for Older Children (PAQ-C). The sample consisted of primary school learners, both boys and girls, aged 9–14 years. The learners were randomly selected from rural, urban and peri-urban areas in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.

Results: Using a complete case analysis, 870 randomly selected participants (boys = 351 and girls = 519) aged 9–14 years were retained. Overall, the sample had a low mean PAQ-C score of 2.33 ± 0.43. The mean of PA in boys was significantly higher (p = 0.003) in comparison with the girls. The 13- to 14-age group had significantly higher PA levels (p = 0.014). Learners from urban areas (n = 136; 77.3%) engaged more in sedentary behaviour compared to those from rural areas (n = 252; 54.9%).

Conclusion: The findings demonstrated low levels of PA and high engagement of sedentary behaviour across the combined gender groups, which have negative implications on health, growth and development of children. The study, therefore, recommends relevant stakeholders to implement interventions aimed at promoting an increase in PA and a reduction in sedentary behaviours for primary school learners in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.


Keywords

children; learners; physical activity; sedentary behaviour; South Africa

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