Seasonal variation in physical activity and sedentary time in different European regions. The HELENA study

J Sports Sci. 2013;31(16):1831-40. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2013.803595. Epub 2013 Sep 20.


This report aims (1) to examine the association between seasonality and physical activity (PA) and sedentary time in European adolescents and (2) to investigate whether this association was influenced by geographical location (Central-North versus South of Europe), which implies more or less extreme weather and daylight hours. Valid data on PA, sedentary time and seasonality were obtained in 2173 adolescents (1175 females; 12.5-17.5 years) included in this study. Physical activity and sedentary time were measured by accelerometers. ANCOVA was conducted to analyse the differences in PA and sedentary time across seasons. Results showed that girls had lower levels of moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) and average PA, and spent more time in sedentary activities in winter compared with spring (all P < 0.05). Stratified analyses showed differences in PA and sedentary time between winter and spring in European girls from Central-North of Europe (P < 0.05 for sedentary time). There were no differences between PA and sedentary time across seasonality in boys. In conclusion, winter is related with less time spent in MVPA, lower average PA and higher time spent in sedentary activities in European adolescent girls, compared with spring. These differences seem to mainly occur in Central-North Europe.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry
  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Climate*
  • Europe
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • Seasons*
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Sex Factors
  • Sunlight*