Associations between physical fitness and activity patterns during adolescence and cardiovascular risk factors in young adulthood: the Northern Ireland Young Hearts Project

Int J Sports Med. 2002 May;23 Suppl 1:S22-6. doi: 10.1055/s-2002-28457.


The aim of the present study was to examine relationships between cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor status in young adulthood (mean age = 22.5 yrs) and antecedent physical fitness and physical activity at ages 12 and 15 years. The data were obtained from the Young Hearts Project, a longitudinal observational study of CVD risk factors in a representative sample of young people from Northern Ireland. Physical fitness was measured by the 20-metre endurance shuttle run, and physical activity and sports participation by a self-report recall questionnaire. CVD risk factors examined included serum total cholesterol (TC) and HDL cholesterol concentrations, the TC:HDL ratio, systolic and diastolic blood pressure and body fatness (sum of four skinfolds). Linear regression analyses showed modest relationships between physical fitness in adolescence and both TC:HDL ratio and body fatness in young adulthood. No such relationships were apparent for adolescent physical activity. The promotion of physical fitness during adolescence may reduce exposure to other risk factors lasting into early adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Northern Ireland / epidemiology
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Skinfold Thickness
  • Sports / statistics & numerical data*