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Childhood and adolescent physical activity patterns and adult physical activity

TAYLOR, WENDELL C.; BLAIR, STEVEN N.; CUMMINGS, SHARON S.; WUN, CHUAN CHUAN; MALINA, ROBERT M.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: January 1999 - Volume 31 - Issue 1 - pp 118-123
Epidemiology

Childhood and adolescent physical activity patterns and adult physical activity. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 118-123, 1999.

Purpose: A major research priority is the influence of childhood and adolescent physical activity patterns on adult physical activity. The research in this area is inconsistent. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationships among specific components of physical activity during childhood and adolescence and exercise habits in adulthood.

Methods: We analyzed preteen and teenage experiences, individual and team sports, and several psychosocial variables. One hundred and five male volunteers completed questionnaires about their current (estimated energy expenditure (EE)) and historic physical activity and a treadmill stress test.

Results: Based on correlations and regression analyses, without and with controlling for potentially confounding variables (treadmill run time and sum of skinfolds), the frequency of being forced to exercise and the frequency of being encouraged to exercise during the preteen years were inversely related to adult physical activity. Being forced to exercise during the preteen years was more related to participation in individual sports than to participation in team sports or both individual and team sports.

Conclusions: Being forced to exercise during childhood may have potentially negative consequences for later activity. The findings indicate that experiences related to participation in activity during childhood and adolescence may influence adult physical activity. The implications of our findings are discussed and future research is recommended.

Center for Health Promotion Research and Development, The University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center, School of Public Health, Houston, TX; The Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications, Dallas, TX; The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Health Policy and Health Services Research Division, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Galveston, TX; and Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

Submitted for publication November 1997.

Accepted for publication May 1998.

We wish to acknowledge Ms. Beth Barlow in collecting data for this research project.

This study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health, National Institutes on Aging (AG6945) and by the UT-Houston, School of Public Health, Small Grants Program which is funded by the National Institutes of Health, Biomedical Research Support Grant.

Address for correspondence: Wendell C. Taylor, Ph.D., M.P.H., Center for Health Promotion Research and Development, The University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center, School of Public Health, 1200 Herman Pressler, Suite RAS W940, Houston, TX 77030-9960.

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.