A brief review on correlates of physical activity and sedentariness in youth

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007 Aug;39(8):1241-50. doi: 10.1249/mss.0b013e318059bf35.


Introduction: Better understanding of the correlates of physical activity and sedentary behaviors in youth will support the development of effective interventions that promote a physically active lifestyle and prevent a sedentary lifestyle. The main goal of this systematic review is to summarize and update the existing literature on correlates of young people's physical activity, insufficient physical activity, and sedentary behavior.

Methods: A systematic review was conducted and included studies published between January 1999 and January 2005.

Results: The 60 reviewed studies showed that for children (age range 4-12), gender (male), self-efficacy, parental physical activity (for boys), and parent support were positively associated with physical activity. For adolescents (age range 13-18), positive associations with physical activity were found for gender (male), parental education, attitude, self-efficacy, goal orientation/motivation, physical education/school sports, family influences, and friend support. For adolescents, a positive association was found between gender (male) and sedentary behavior, whereas an inverse association was found between gender and insufficient physical activity. Ethnicity (Caucasian), socioeconomic status, and parent education were found to be inversely associated with adolescents' sedentary behaviors. For children, the evidence was insufficient to draw conclusions about correlates of insufficient physical activity and sedentary behavior.

Conclusion: To gain more insight in the correlates of change in physical activity levels, more prospective studies are needed. Moreover, further research is needed examining the correlates of insufficient physical activity and sedentary behaviors, to develop effective interventions that may help children and adolescents diminish the time they spend on inactive behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations