Physical activity, health-related fitness and social correlates among adolescents : the PAHL study
Skaal, Hajira Thabitha
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Research has shown that social correlates of physical activity play an important role in individual participation in physical activity or sport, hence their link with associated health benefits. However, in spite of the health benefits associated with physical activity, many children do not meet the daily guidelines of being active for at least 30 minutes a day. This study investigated physical activity, health-related fitness and social correlates among 284 adolescents (111 boys and 173 girls) who are part of the on-going Physical Activity and Health Longitudinal Study (PAHLS). Height, weight, skinfold thickness (triceps, subscapular and calf skinfolds), waist and hip circumferences were measured through the standard procedures described by the International Standards of Advancement of Kinanthropometry (ISAK). Body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and percentage body fat (%BF) were used as measures of body composition. Health-related physical fitness (HRPF) was determined by measuring cardiorespiratory endurance, muscle strength and endurance, and flexibility using standardised tests according to the EUROFIT (1988) test protocol. The standardised International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ-Short form) and Social Support for Physical Activity questionnaire were used to gather information on participation in physical activity and social correlates for physical activity respectively. The results show that 29.6% of the adolescents were underweight and 26.4% overweight. Girls were significantly (p<0.05) fatter (%BF and BMI) and shorter than the boys. A significant gender difference (p<0.05) was also observed in WHR. Thirty four percent (34%) participated in low PA with 35% in high PA. Boys were significantly (z-4.52; p=0.000) more highly active compared to the girls. Boys measured significantly higher than girls (p<0.05) in SBJ, BAH, SUP, predicted 2max • V O . Adolescents’ participation in physical activity was affected by ‘lack of support by friends’, ‘encouragement by friends or family members’ and ‘lack of support during engagement in physical activity’. A significant difference (p<0.05) was found between boys and girls regarding ‘friends’ encouragement to do physical activity or sports’, ‘participation in physical activity or sports with friends’ and ‘friends’ confirmation that the participant is doing a good job at physical activity’. Positive correlations were found between Total Physical Activity (TPA) and all social correlates of PA, with a significant relationship between total physical activity (TPA) and ‘how often do your friends tell you that you are doing a good job at physical activity?’, and ‘has someone told you that you are doing well in physical activity?’ percentage body fat was negatively associated with social correlates of physical activity with a significant relationship in contrast with ‘friends’ encouragement that one is doing a good job at physical activity’. A significant positive correlation was observed between WC, WHR, SBJ, SUP, predicted 2max • V O and ‘friends’ encouragement in a typical week to do physical activity or sports’. Further significant positive correlations were found with WC for ‘encouragement by someone in a typical week to do physical activity or sports’; WHR, SBJ, BAH, SUP, predicted 2max • V O for ‘participation in physical activity or sports with friends’; SBJ, SUP, predicted 2max • V O for ‘friends’ encouragement that one is doing a good job at physical activity’; SBJ, SUP, predicted 2max • V O for ‘someone’s encouragement that one is doing a good job at physical activity’; BAH, SUP, predicted 2max • VO for ‘someone’s participation in sport with one’; SUP, predicted 2max • VO for ‘one’s encouragement to friends to participate in physical activity or sport’; SUP for ‘provision of transportation to physical activity or sport’; and predicted 2max • V O for ‘someone watching one participate in physical activity or sport’. SAR, on the other hand, was negatively associated with all social correlates for physical activity. It can be concluded that the adolescent boys in the study were underweight and significantly more active when compared to the relatively overweight and inactive girls. Boys also have higher health-related fitness and higher social correlates compared to the girls. Social correlates for physical activity were positively associated with participation in physical activity and health related physical fitness variables. Thirty six percent (36%) of the participants indicated lack of transport as a negative factor for their participation in physical activity and sport. Based on these findings, urgent strategic public health intervention by all stakeholders dealing with adolescents, as well as more research studies in the area, is required.
- Health Sciences