Current projects

Influence of Children’s 24-hour Movement Behaviours on Behavioural, Psychological, and Cognitive Health

Project summary 

Children’s health and development are influenced by how much time is spent sleeping, sitting, and doing physical activity, which are collectively termed, movement behaviours. These movement behaviours can impact on a range of physical, developmental, psychological, and behavioural health indicators. Traditionally, movement behaviours have been studied individually in relation to health (e.g., sedentary behaviour and obesity risk). However, it has recently been highlighted that movement behaviours are inter-related and happen in a mutually exclusive manner over a finite period of time, such as a 24-hour day (e.g., if a child is sleeping they are not involved in physical activity). Researchers are now starting to look at how sleep, sedentary behaviour, and physical activity combined, influence children’s health. To date most of this research has focused on physical health, using a novel approach termed compositional data analysis, which accounts for the mutually exclusive nature of the movement behaviours. Our project will use this analysis approach to better understand how movement behaviours influence children behavioural, psychological, and cognitive health.

Phase 1 of our project will be a secondary analysis of an existing large UK data set. Phase 2 will involve mixed-methods data collection and analysis with children from schools in West Lancashire. The research will use children’s 24-hour movement behaviour data with behavioural, psychological, developmental, and cognitive indicators of health, such as prosocial functioning, self-esteem, coordination disorders, cognitive function, and academic performance, respectively. A novel aspect is that these types of health indicators have rarely been examined with 24-hour movement behaviours. Compositional data analysis will examine the relationships between the 24-hour movement composition and each health indicator. We are particularly interested in looking at the effects on health when time in one movement behaviour (e.g., sedentary) is swapped for time in another movement behaviour (e.g., physical activity). Qualitative methods will explore children’s perceptions of this area using visual participatory approaches, such as Write, Draw, Show, and Tell. Following data collection and analysis, the project will focus on dissemination and activities to demonstrate the impact of the research.

The project is funded by the Waterloo Foundation and will be led by myself and Dr Rob Noonan at Edge Hill University in collaboration with Dr Andy Atkin and Professor Lee Shepstone at the University of East Anglia.

Active West Lancs School-Based Physical Activity and Wellbeing Programme Evaluation


The Active West Lancs (AWL) schools programme centres on the Dr Feelwell healthy lifestyles education programme, and the Les Mills International Born to Move physical activity and fitness programme. Both are delivered once a week for 12 weeks. For the purposes of this evaluation it is envisaged that both programmes will be received by current Year 5 pupils in each school. Change4Life after-schools clubs are implemented as a supplementary element of the programme.

Outcomes measures

Physical activity

    • Self-reported weekly physical activity (Youth Activity Profile survey)
      • Weeks 1 and 12
    • Objectively assessed school day physical activity on Born to Move and non-Born to Move days (Actigraph accelerometers)
      • Measured in one week within the 12 week block


  • Health-related fitness components (weeks 1 and 12)
    • Body mass index and weight status (height and weight)
    • Waist-to-height ratio as a cardiometabolic risk indicator (waist circumference and height)
    • Cardiorespiratory fitness (20 m shuttle run test/International Fitness Survey)
    • Muscular fitness (push-up test/International Fitness Survey)


  • Psychological correlates of physical activity (weeks 1 and 12)
    • Health-related quality of life and wellbeing (KIDSCREEN-27)
    • Physical self-perceptions (Physical Self-Perceptions Profile questionnaire)
    • Physical activity self-efficacy (Motl et al. questionnaire)
    • Physical activity enjoyment (Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale)
    • Physical activity attitudes (questionnaire to be confirmed)


  • Knowledge and understanding of physical activity and health lifestyles (questionnaire to be confirmed) (weeks 1 and 12)


  • Pupil learning
    • Before and after Born to Move classroom lesson time-on-task (Energizers study observation protocol)
      • Measured in one week within the 12 week block


  • Teachers’ and instructors’ perceptions of the programme (interviews)
    • Measured in one week within the 12 week block


  • Pupils’ perceptions of the programme (focus groups stimulated by write and draw tasks)
    • Measured in one week within the 12 week block


  • Programme fidelity (session observations)
    • Measured in multiple weeks within the 12 week block


Evaluation design and analysis

Except where stated, the outcomes will be measured at the beginning and end of each 12-week block. Quantitative data will be analysed to investigate change in outcomes over the course of the block. Qualitative data will be analysed thematically so as to better explain and to complement the quantitative results.


Longitudinal measures

The September 2017 phase of the AWL programme coincides with the explicit requirement for children to engage in 30 minutes of physical activity during the school day, and the physical and mental health agendas are more prominent in schools than ever before. Therefore, this unique context provides the basis to undertake a natural experiment embedded within the AWL evaluation to track selected outcomes over time to estimate the sustained effects on the children’s wellbeing, fitness, and health. Where feasible, selected outcomes (e.g., health-related fitness, health-related quality of life, etc) will be measured on repeated occasions (i.e., 6, 12, and 18 months post-baseline). These longitudinal data will allow exploration of changes in the short, medium, and long-term.

AWL is delivered by West Lancashire Sports Partnership and and the evaluation is coordinated by Dr Danielle Christian at Edge Hill University.