Objectively measured physical activity and sedentary time in European adolescents: the HELENA study

Am J Epidemiol. 2011 Jul 15;174(2):173-84. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwr068. Epub 2011 Apr 5.


The authors' aim in this cross-sectional study was to characterize levels of objectively measured physical activity and sedentary time in adolescents from 9 European countries. The study comprised 2,200 European adolescents (1,184 girls) participating in the HELENA cross-sectional study (2006-2008). Physical activity was measured by accelerometry and was expressed as average intensity (counts/minute) and amount of time (minutes/day) spent engaging in moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA). Time spent in sedentary behaviors was also objectively measured. Cardiorespiratory fitness was measured by means of the 20-m shuttle run test. Level of maternal education was reported by the adolescents. A higher proportion of boys (56.8% of boys vs. 27.5% of girls) met the physical activity recommendations of at least 60 minutes/day of MVPA. Adolescents spent most of the registered time in sedentary behaviors (9 hours/day, or 71% of the registered time). Both average intensity and MVPA were higher in adolescents with high cardiorespiratory fitness, and sedentary time was lower in the high-fitness group. There were no physical activity or sedentary time differences between maternal education categories. These data provide an objective measure of physical activity and amount of time spent in sedentary behaviors in a relatively large number of European adolescents.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Sedentary Behavior*