Physical Activity in the PULSE Exhibit
IND's studenterserie nr. 72. Specialerapport. Biologi.
Anders Tørring Kolding og Jonas Tarp Jørgensen, 2019.
(Kandidatspecialet er afleveret og forsvaret tilbage i 2016)
Vejleder: Robert Harry Evans
Background: Physical activity greatly influences human health, and obtaining a physically active lifestyle decreases the risks of developing numerous non-communicable diseases as well as having a positive effect on societal costs and personal wellbeing. Physical activity in childhood seems to track into adulthood, emphasizing the importance of establishing healthy habits early in life. Both self-efficacy and enjoyment have been associated with physical activity behaviour in children, and are thought of as important predictors of future physical activity engagement.
Aim: The aim of the study was to investigate if a visit to the Experimentarium’s PULSE exhibit, would affect children’s relationship to physical activity and test if the exhibit succeeded in activating children during their visit. To examine PULSE’s effect on children’s physical activity, we used reported self-efficacy and enjoyment of physical activity, as well as heart rate observations during their visit.
Methods: Families were included through convenience sampling and visited PULSE in early 2016. Heart rate, self-efficacy and enjoyment of physical activity were tracked for 53 children (age = 8,9, std. dev. = 2,2) before, during and after (35 days on average) a visit to PULSE. Heart rate was measured with Polar® RCX3 watches and H3 heart rate sensors. Self-efficacy was measured through one question for each of the eight activities in PULSE, administered three times. Enjoyment was measured with PACES, and administered two times.
Results: Children’s heart rates increased during their time in PULSE. Eleven children (all girls) experienced vigorous activity. Self-efficacy increased for some activities, but decreased for others. Overall, average self-efficacy remained unchanged, but girls’ self-efficacy increased while boys’ self-efficacy decreased. Average reported enjoyment remained unchanged for both genders. Neither self-efficacy nor enjoyment were dependent on age. Individual changes in self-efficacy and enjoyment were positively correlated (r (36) = 0,51, p < 0,01). The most and least popular activities were The Balance Kitchen and The Bike Shed respectively.
Conclusion: Our heart rate measurements indicate that the PULSE exhibit succeeds in activating children during their visit, but we did not establish an association between heart rate and self-efficacy or enjoyment. It would seem that the PULSE exhibit is more advantageous in increasing the self-efficacy of girls than of boys, who actually decreased one month after the visit. We did not see any changes in reported enjoyment of physical activity, and no differences between age and gender were found. The positive correlation between selfefficacy and enjoyment indicate that these variables are connected, and since causality is not determined here, we recommend that neither should be neglected if the PULSE exhibit wishes to support and motivate a child’s development of physical activity. Experimentarium and other museum developers should focus on providing opportunities for raising both self-efficacy and enjoyment when designing exhibits such as PULSE, which promote health through physical activity.