Understanding Youths' Ability to Interpret 3D-Printed Physical Activity Data and Identify Associated Intensity Levels: Mixed-Methods Study

Sam Graeme Morgan Crossley, Melitta Anne McNarry, Michael Rosenberg, Zoe R. Knowles, Parisa Eslambolchilar, Kelly Alexandra Mackintosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: A significant proportion of youth in the United Kingdom fail to meet the recommended 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day. One of the major barriers encountered in achieving these physical activity recommendations is the perceived difficulty for youths to interpret physical activity intensity levels and apply them to everyday activities. Personalized physical activity feedback is an important method to educate youths about behaviors and associated outcomes. Recent advances in 3D printing have enabled novel ways of representing physical activity levels through personalized tangible feedback to enhance youths' understanding of concepts and make data more available in the everyday physical environment rather than on screen.

Objective: The purpose of this research was to elicit youths' (children and adolescents) interpretations of two age-specific 3D models displaying physical activity and to assess their ability to appropriately align activities to the respective intensity.

Methods: Twelve primary school children (9 boys; mean age 7.8 years; SD 0.4 years) and 12 secondary school adolescents (6 boys; mean age 14.1 years; SD 0.3 years) participated in individual semistructured interviews. Interview questions, in combination with two interactive tasks, focused on youths' ability to correctly identify physical activity intensities and interpret an age-specific 3D model. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, content was analyzed, and outcomes were represented via tables and diagrammatic pen profiles.

Results: Youths, irrespective of age, demonstrated a poor ability to define moderate-intensity activities. Moreover, children and adolescents demonstrated difficulty in correctly identifying light- and vigorous-intensity activities, respectively. Although youths were able to correctly interpret different components of the age-specific 3D models, children struggled to differentiate physical activity intensities represented in the models.

Conclusions: These findings support the potential use of age-specific 3D models of physical activity to enhance youths' understanding of the recommended guidelines and associated intensities.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere11253
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2019


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