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  • 290 The Digest

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Fighting the Blues

Using data from the 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), the purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between physical activity, sport participation, and adolescent suicidal behavior. Of the 13,857 students in grades 9 to 12 who completed the 2005 YRBS, 81.8% reported engaging in physical activity at least once per week, 54.0% participated in sports, 16.9% had seriously considered attempting suicide, 13.3% had made a suicide plan, 9.0% had attempted suicide, and 4.2% had attempted suicide multiple times. Results indicated that males were more likely than females to participate in physical activity at least once per week and had higher rates of sport participation. Conversely, females had a higher prevalence of suicidality. However, the risk of hopelessness and suicidality decreased with age for females but not for males. Athletes experienced lower rates of hopelessness and suicidality than nonathletes. Sport participation was significantly associated with reduced odds of hopelessness and suicidal behavior among both genders. Male athletes were less likely to feel hopeless and consider, plan, or attempt suicide, whereas female athletes had reduced odds of hopelessness, considering suicide, planning suicide, and attempting suicide. After controlling for sport participation, the authors found that males who exercised six to seven times per week showed reduced risk of planning suicide and attempting suicide multiple times whereas females who exercised one to two times per week were more likely to report feeling hopeless compared with inactive females. Extracurricular activities such as team sport participation, which involves physical activity, provide adolescents an opportunity to establish positive social relations, increase self-esteem, and improve perceived physical competence while reducing feelings of hopelessness and suicidal behaviors.

Taliaferro, L. A., Rienzo B. A., Miller, M. D., Pigg, R. M. Jr, & Dodd, V. J. (2008). High school youth and suicide risk: Exploring protection afforded through physical activity and sport participation. The Journal of School Health, 78(10), 545–553.

Author Web site: Journal Web site: = 0022-4391

African American Girls: Influences on Their Physical Activity

African American girls have one of the highest rates of physical inactivity and obesity, and activity rates in this population decline during adolescence more than among males or Caucasian females. To examine the determinants of physical activity in this particularly at-risk population, this study targeted African American girls who came from (i) low-income households and (ii) were overweight. Participants were part of a larger exercise and nutrition intervention. African American girls (n = 72, M age = 10.5) who were overweight (greater than the 75th percentile for BMI for age) and attended one of two predominantly low-income, urban public schools participated. The participants completed questionnaires assessing their

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physical activity (moderate and vigorous physical activity and sedentary behavior), BMI, pubertal stage of development, social support from peers and family, health beliefs regarding the consequences of physical activity, self-efficacy for physical activity, and intention to be physically active. Puberty was significantly associated with lower intentions and self-efficacy for physical activity, which is of particular interest in this population given that African American girls tend to reach puberty at a younger age than Caucasian girls. In addition, younger girls received greater social support for physical activity from both family and peers. Higher levels of physical activity behavior were associated with lower rates of sedentary behavior, lower BMI, and higher self-efficacy for exercise. Multiple regression analyses also revealed social support and health beliefs to positively predict, and pubertal stage to negatively predict, physical activity intentions. This study expands research on determinants of physical activity to a rarely studied, at-risk population, and suggests areas for future research to facilitate physical activity in this population.

Lown, D. A., & Braunschweig, C. L. (2008). Determinants of physical activity in low-income, overweight African American girls. American Journal of Health Behavior, 32, 253–259.

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Assessing “Short” and “Core” Flow

The assessment of flow has tended to focus upon multi-item multi-factor instruments. Although such instruments may be superior to brief, unidimensional ones, there may also be occasions when brief measures of flow are appropriate and may complement or augment research using multi-item multifactor forms. The aim of the present study was to assess two brief measures of flow, and to assess relationships between these measures of flow and motivation. The two brief measures were (a) “short” flow, and (b) “core” flow. Short flow reflects an aggregate or global measure drawn from the original “long” multi-item multifactor flow instrument. Core flow reflects the phenomenology of the subjective flow experience itself. Study 1 examined short flow in work (n = 637), sport (n = 239), and music (n = 224) contexts. Study 2 examined core flow in school (n = 2,229), extracurricular activity (n = 2,229), mathematics (n = 378), and sport (n = 220) contexts. The results revealed (i) both flow measures demonstrated acceptable model fit, reliability, and distributions; (ii) both measures demonstrated associations with motivation in hypothesized ways; and (iii) both measures demonstrated invariance in factor loadings across the diverse samples. The authors concluded that the two brief flow measures are appropriate for research examining task absorption, subjective experience, and cognate constructs such as motivation, but that choice of measures should be guided by the research purpose and questions. For those seeking an aggregate profile of flow characteristics but with the constraints of methodological or practical limitations (e.g., time, survey space), the short flow scale might be important to consider. However, for those seeking to tap into the core phenomenological experience of what it is like to be in this optimal state of mind—but also with methodological and practical constraints—the core flow scale might be more appropriate.