Adolescents' attitudes toward sports, exercise, and fitness predict physical activity 5 and 10 years later

Prev Med. 2011 Feb;52(2):130-2. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2010.11.013. Epub 2010 Dec 3.


Objective: To determine whether adolescent attitudes towards sports, exercise, and fitness predict moderate-to-vigorous physical activity 5 and 10 years later.

Method: A diverse group of 1902 adolescents participating in Project Eating and Activity in Teens, reported weekly moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and attitudes toward sports, exercise, and fitness in Eating and Activity in Teens-I (1998-99), Eating and Activity in Teens-II (2003-04), and Eating and Activity in Teens-III (2008-09).

Results: Mean moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was 6.4, 5.1, and 4.0 hours/week at baseline, 5-year, and 10-year follow-up, respectively. Attitudes toward sports, exercise, and fitness together predicted moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at 5 and 10 years. Among the predictors of 5- and 10-year moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, attitude's effect size, though modest, was comparable to the effect sizes for sports participation and body mass index. Adolescents with more-favorable attitudes toward sports, exercise, and fitness engaged in approximately 30%-40% more weekly moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at follow-up (2.1 hour/week at 5 years and 1.2 hour/week at 10 years) than those with less-favorable attitudes.

Conclusion: Adolescents' exercise-related attitudes predict subsequent moderate-to-vigorous physical activity independent of baseline behavior suggesting that youth moderate-to-vigorous physical activity promotion efforts may provide long-term benefits by helping youth develop favorable exercise attitudes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Fitness / physiology
  • Physical Fitness / psychology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Sports / physiology
  • Sports / psychology*
  • Time Factors
  • United States