Introduction: Physical literacy is the motivation, confidence, knowledge and physical competence supporting physically active lifestyles. Children with congenital heart defects (CHD) are often less active than peers, suggesting a physical literacy deficit.
Hypothesis: Physical literacy assessment would identify potential intervention targets for increasing the physical activity of children with CHD.
Methods: Cross-sectional study of children (8-12 years) with CHD (n=36, 36% female) and peers from local schools (n= 253, 46% female), matched by age, sex and daily pedometer steps. The Canadian Assessment of Physical Literacy assessed total physical literacy and daily behaviour, physical competence, motivation and knowledge sub-domains.
Results: Although measured pedometer steps were > 12,000 steps/day most days of the week, children with CHD reported achieving that standard only 1.9±0.5 days per week (Peers: 5.3±1.9 days/week; p<0.001). They also reported more sedentary behaviour (CHD: 3.7 ±3.1 points; Peers: 5.1±2.9 points, p=0.01, lower score = more sedentary time). Muscular endurance (CHD: 41.0±17.9 sec; Peers: 59.1±41.9 sec; p=0.01) was lower among these active CHD patients. Children with CHD required more time (19.8 vs 17.7 secs; p=0.001), but performed an agility course with greater skill (16 vs 11 points; p<0.001). Total and sub-domain physical literacy scores were similar (p>0.17) among these active children with/without CHD.
Conclusions: Active children with CHD report being less active and more sedentary than peers, even when measured activity is similar and meets current recommendations. Limited muscular endurance and the longer time required to perform skills correctly may influence self-perceptions and participation success. Interventions to enhance the accuracy of physical activity self-perceptions, decrease sedentary pursuits, enhance muscular endurance and improve the speed of skill performance should be evaluated.