PhD defence: Investigating and measuring physical literacy and its health-related correlates in Danish children and adolescents

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Paulina Sander Melby is defending her PhD thesis

Investigating and measuring physical literacy and its health-related correlates in Danish children and adolescents

Time

20 January 2023, 13:00

Place

Festauditoriet, Bülowsvej 17, 1870 Frederiksberg .

Assessment committee

Associate professor Jesper Lundbye-Jensen (chair), Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Senior researcher Amika Singh, The Mulier Institute, The Netherlands.

Associate Professor Mette Toftager, Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark.

Supervisor

Associate professor Glen Nielsen, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Co supervisor

Director Peter Bentsen, Center for Clinical Research and Prevention, Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital, Denmark.

Postdoc Peter Elsborg, Center for Clinical Research and Prevention, Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital, Denmark.

General secretary Bjørn Christensen, Danish School Sports, Denmark.

About the thesis

Danish children and adolescents are insufficiently active, and mental health issues are increasing. This is a problem, because there is clear evidence that physical activity and well-being are essential for reducing the major problems with non-communicable chronic diseases that society faces today.

Unfortunately, interventions that aim to increase children's physical activity levels are either not effective or have no long-term effect. It is therefore important to promote children's prerequisites for participation in different contexts for physical activity throughout their lives in a way that also foster a positive and meaningful experience. In other words, it is important to target determinants of physical activity and well-being, such as physical literacy.

Physical literacy contains an affective, a physical and a cognitive domain, which together lay the foundation for the individual's capacity and tendency to participate in physical activities here and now and throughout life. Physical literacy is often defined as the “the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life”.

Other than being important for physical activity, physical literacy is believed to be essential for the well-being in physical activity contexts, and therefore also overall well-being.

The aim of this thesis was to investigate four direct and indirect associations between physical literacy, physical activity and well-being. This aim was reached by conducting three cross-sectional studies, synthesizing the results across the three studies and combining the results with previous evidence and theoretical perspectives from physical literacy and self-determination theory.

With this thesis, I contribute with high-quality evidence on the assumed link between children’s and adolescents’ physical literacy, physical activity participation and well-being as well as provide expanded knowledge of why physical literacy may be important for well-being and continuous physical activity participation.

Results of this thesis indicate that physical literacy is important for well-being above and beyond daily amount of physical activity levels, and that physical literacy is important for engagement in physical activities, which may have long-term health implications. Strategies and initiatives should be designed to promote and develop children’s and adolescents’ physical literacy.

Download Table of contents; English summary; Dansk resumé; List of research articles included in the thesis.

2023, 237 pages.