Tracking of Physical Fitness and Physical Activity from Youth to Adulthood in Females

MATTON, LYNN1; THOMIS, MARTINE1; WIJNDAELE, KATRIEN2; DUVIGNEAUD, NATHALIE3; BEUNEN, GASTON1; CLAESSENS, ALBRECHT L.1; VANREUSEL, BART1; PHILIPPAERTS, RENAAT2; LEFEVRE, JOHAN1

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: June 2006 - Volume 38 - Issue 6 - pp 1114-1120
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000222840.58767.40
BASIC SCIENCES: Epidemiology

Purpose: To evaluate stability of physical fitness and physical activity from adolescence into middle adulthood in Flemish females.

Methods: Within the scope of the Leuven Longitudinal Study on Lifestyle, Fitness and Health, 138 females (mean age = 16.6 ± 1.1 yr) from the Leuven Growth Study of Flemish Girls were seen in adulthood (mean age = 40.5 ± 1.1 yr). Several body dimensions and motor fitness tests were taken. Physical activity was assessed by means of a sports participation inventory. Interage correlations were calculated between adolescent and adult values. Cross-tabulation was used to identify the percentage of subjects remaining in the same BMI and physical activity group or shifting from one group to another from adolescence to adulthood. Odds ratios for less activity and overweight in adulthood according to adolescent activity or weight status were calculated.

Results: Except for flamingo balance, plate tapping, leg lifts, and arm pull, all anthropometric and physical fitness characteristics were stable from adolescence to adulthood (r ranging from 0.49 to 0.96). Sports participation was not a stable characteristic (r = 0.13). From adolescence to adulthood, 84.5 and 63.6%, respectively, remained in the normal-weight and overweight group, whereas 62.5 and 54.4%, respectively, remained in the less active and active group. The odds of being overweight in adulthood was 9.53 (95% CI: 3.1-29.8) times greater in overweight compared with normal-weight adolescent girls.

Conclusion: In Flemish females, anthropometric and fitness characteristics demonstrate higher levels of stability from adolescence to middle adulthood than physical activity. Weight status during adolescence is indicative of adult weight status, and a pattern of less activity rather than activity tends to continue from youth to adulthood.

1Faculty of Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Sciences, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, BELGIUM; 2Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Gent, BELGIUM; and 3Faculty of Physical Education and Physical Therapy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, BELGIUM

Address for correspondence: Lynn Matton, Tervuursevest 101, B-3001 Leuven, Belgium; E-mail: Lynn.Matton@faber.kuleuven.be.

Submitted for publication August 2005.

Accepted for publication December 2005.

©2006The American College of Sports Medicine