PhD defence - Glen Nielsen

Glen Nielsen is defending his PhD-thesis

Children’s Daily Physical Activity
– Patterns and the influence of socio-cultural factors


Monday October 17, 2011 at 14.00 o'clock


Store Auditorium, Nørre Allé 51, DK-2200 Copenhagen N


Associate professor Lone Friis Thing (chair), Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Professor Ken Green, Department of Sport & Exercise Sciences, University of Chester, United Kingdom

Professor Bjørn Holstein, National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark


Professor Gertrud Pfister, Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, University of Copenhagen
Professor Lars Bo Andersen, Exercise Epidemiology, Institut for Idræt og Biomekanik, Syddansk Universitet

Increased rates of inactivity and obesity among children have led to numerous initiatives seeking to promote and increase their physical activity levels. 

Most studies on predictors of Danish children’s physical activity are based on either questionnaire techniques, which only obtain valid measures of the amount of organised physical activity (i.e. sports), or qualitative techniques giving very situation-specific results.  Therefore, little is known about the general patterns and determinants of Danish children’s total range and amount of physical activity. 

This PhD study investigates how children’s daily physical activity is influenced by gender, ethnicity and social class, as well as social contexts and material facilities. This is done using accelerometer measures of physical activity, school-ground measurements, and questionnaire data about organised sports, family demography, resources and values.

The results indicate that children’s club organised sports participation is socially stratified with economical and cultural barriers to participation, while children’s everyday institutional settings for self-organised physical activity have gendered barriers to participation in terms of norms and facilities. 

Furthermore the results suggest that providing numerous and diverse play facilities in children’s daily institutional settings can bridge the observed gender gap in children’s physical activity and increase children’s physical activity in general.

Read more about the thesis.