Abstract P269: Examining the Unique Contribution of Physical Education and Sports Team Participation to Overall Levels of Adolescent Physical Activity
Background: Adolescent females are significantly less likely to meet physical activity recommendations than males; this gender disparity is also evident among adults. Physical education class and sports teams represent an important opportunity for physical activity among youth. Females, in particular, may rely on these opportunities since they are less likely to be active during unstructured time as compared to males. This study examined the relative contribution of participation in physical education class and sports teams to overall levels of physical activity for females and males, independent of known correlates of physical activity in this group of adolescents.
Methods: Cross-sectional data was examined from 591 9th−12th grade students from Philadelphia public schools who completed the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Assessment. The relationship between the independent variables (participation in physical education class and sports teams) and other selected correlates (race, grade level, body mass index, depression symptoms and suicidal ideation, eating habits and weight concern, drug use, television watching and computer use) and physical activity was evaluated using chi-square tests. Variables with an association of p<.3 were entered into a stepwise regression model to estimate the relative association of each variable with activity levels. A final regression model stratified by gender was generated to estimate gender differences.
Results: Sixty-two percent of the sample was female, 50% were African American, 19% were overweight, and 33% reported five or more days of activity in the last week. Females were less likely to be active than males (x2(2, N = 591) = 33.72, p = <.01): 27.9% of females were sedentary as compared to 10.6% of males. PE class was not significantly related to overall physical activity among males, while highly active females were seven times more likely to report participating in PE class every day than sedentary females (Exp(B)=7.06; p=.001). Playing on one or more sports teams was significantly associated with low-to-moderate (Exp(B)=2.14; p=.02) and highly active females (Exp(B)=3.24; p<.01). Among males, sports team participation was only associated with high levels of activity (Exp(B)=2.79; p=.05).
Conclusions: Participation in sports teams and physical education class contribute more to overall activity levels in female than male adolescents. A more rigorous assessment of this hypothesis is warranted to inform efforts to promote adolescent activity levels, particularly among females.
- © 2012 by American Heart Association, Inc.