Physical Activity Frequency of Special Olympic Athletes Ages 8-18 Across Economic Status

Kathryn Rozak, John Thomas Foley, Cathy MacDonald, Rebecca Bryan, Meghann Lloyd, Viviene Temple


The purpose of the study was to examine the self-reported physical activity frequency of an international sample of children and youth ages 8-18 who participate in Special Olympics across economic status.  A secondary aim was to determine if there was a difference between males and females in physical activity frequency.  Data from a total of 12,243 children and youth were available from the Special Olympics International Healthy Athletes Database after data cleaning (7819 male and 4424 female).  Prevalence rates were calculated with confidence intervals for physical activity occurring less than three days per week, or three or more days per week across economic status of country (low; lower middle; upper middle and high income status).  A series of Chi-square test were used to determine differences in physical activity frequency across economic status and gender. Overall, 65.43% of Special Olympics participants from low–income economies, 40.81% from lower middle-income, 50.75% from upper middle-income, and 61.6% from high-income economies reported 3 or more days of physical activity per week.  Additionally, male Special Olympic athletes tended to be more physically active than their female counterparts. Additional research is needed to understand reasons for these differences and determine how to increase overall physical activity among this population.

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