Physical literacy profiles are associated with differences in children's physical activity participation: a latent profile analysis approach

Denver M. Y. Brown*, Dean A. Dudley, John Cairney

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives: Despite physical literacy receiving increased attention as a potential gateway to physical activity participation, research establishing the link between physical literacy as a higher-order latent construct and physical activity is scant. The purpose of this study was to identify physical literacy profiles of children, and in turn, whether these profiles were associated with differences in physical activity participation. Methods: Design: Prospective cohort study. Children (N = 2015; 49% girls) completed a battery of measures to assess physical literacy (i.e., motor competence, confidence, motivation and enjoyment) in 5th grade. Physical activity participation was reported in the 5th and 8th grades. Latent profile analysis was applied to identify physical literacy profiles and estimate the effects of profile membership on physical activity participation. Results: Five unique profiles emerged including high (61.8%), moderate (19.8%) and low physical literacy (6.7%) as well as two inconsistent low physical literacy profiles characterized by divergent high enjoyment (9.7%) and very low enjoyment (2%). After adjusting for socioeconomic status and gender, physical activity participation was greatest among the high physical literacy profile, followed by the moderate physical literacy profile and was lowest across the three low physical literacy profiles. Differences in physical activity participation observed across the profiles remained consistent over time. Conclusions: This is the first time a person-centered approach has been applied to understand how the domains of physical literacy interact with each other to influence physical activity patterns. Results suggest physical literacy plays a formative role in shaping physical activity trajectories from a young age.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1062-1067
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
    Issue number11
    Early online date17 May 2020
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


    • mixture models
    • distal outcomes
    • health promotion
    • psychology
    • motor skills
    • exercise


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