K. Leonard1, H. Wing1, L. Flora2, R. Kornfield2, R. H. Coker1 1University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, 2SkiKu, Nordic Journeys, Anchorage, AK

This research was presented by representatives from the Alaska chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine.

The incidence of obesity has risen in conjunction with decreased levels of physical activity in Alaska Native children living in remote villages. SkiKu and the NANA regional corporation have recently supported cross-country skiing that provides instruction and equipment in the northwest region of Alaska. PURPOSE: We hypothesized that biannual instruction and unrestricted access to equipment would promote favorable levels of physical activity and sleep quality in Alaska Native youth in Shungnak, AK. METHODS: Children (n=15; 7 males, 8 females) ages 10-15 were recruited from Shungnak, Alaska (262 residents). Multiple variables related to physical activity and sleep quality were monitored using GT3X+ ActiGraph accelerometers. The SkiKu coaches and staff provided one week of ski instruction and continual access to equipment for six months prior to data collection. Following this period, the accelerometers were worn for six days by participants. The ActiLife v6 software was then used for data analysis and interpretation. RESULTS: The participants in the present study spent 161±20 min•day, 92±12 min•day and 725±32 min•day in moderate to vigorous activity (MVPA), vigorous activity and sedentary activity, respectively. There was a trend for less MVPA (P=0.09) and a significantly lower level of vigorous activity (P=0.03) in females (76±13 min•day) compared to males (110±9 min•day). Sleep efficiency was 87±2% with no difference in males and females. The number of awakenings and mean awakening length was 16±5 and 4±1 min, respectively, and there was no significant difference between males and females. CONCLUSIONS: In conjunction with the SkiKu program, our study provides the first evidence for healthy levels of physical activity and sleep quality in Alaska Native youth. Future studies are needed to measure gender differences, and pre- and post-introduction benefits of participation in the SkiKu program.

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