Health-related fitness, body composition and physical activity status among adolescent learners: the PAHL study
Monyeki, Makama Andries
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Physical inactivity (PI) is found to be a major contributor to the high incidence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents. As such, PI was significantly related to risk factors of cardiovascular disease. Studies especially in the 14-years in adolescents' learners are sparse. The purpose of this study was to determine the health-related physical fitness (HRPF), body composition and physical activity (PA) status among adolescent learners. A total of 283 adolescents learners (111 boys and 172 girls) with mean age of 14.90±0.72 years from the Physical Activity and Health Longitudinal Study (PAHLS) were participants in the study. Body composition according to the standard procedures of the International Society for the Advancement of Kinanthropometry (ISAK), HRPF using the Eurofit protocol test and PA levels using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) were assessed and administered. Subsequently, total PA scores were calculated. The results show that on average, the boys (165.41±9.55cm) were significantly taller than the girls (157.88±6.94cm) (p<0.000). Girls had a slightly higher significant BMI (21.43±4.37 kg/m2) than the boys (20.01±3.71 kg/m2) (p=0.002). When the learners were categorised based on their BMI scores, the girls were more overweight (32.4%) compared to the boys (17.1%). Additionally, the girls (%body fat 26.01±8.51) were substantially (p<0.000) fatter than the boys (13.19±8.56). Furthermore, the results also indicated that the boys had consistently better performances in all the HRPF tests than the girls (p<0.000). More girls (19%) than boys (16%) watched TV for more than 3 hours daily. A total of 85 (30%), 78 (27.5%) and 88 (31.1%) of the adolescent students had low, moderate and high PA involvement. It was concluded that girls were more overweight and less active than boys. In view of the health implications of the findings, there is a need to create enabling environment and opportunities that will promote physically active lifestyle and develop life-long positive attitudes towards PA among the learners. Community-based strategies designed to facilitate effective and sustainable PA intervention programmes in schools are recommended.
- Faculty of Health Sciences