Secular trends in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in 32 countries from 2002 to 2010: a cross-national perspective

Eur J Public Health. 2015 Apr:25 Suppl 2:37-40. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckv024.


Background: Sufficient levels of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) give substantial health benefits to adolescents. This article examines trends in physical activity (PA) from 2002 to 2010 across 32 countries from Europe and North America.

Methods: Representative samples included 479 674 pupils (49% boys) aged 11 years (n = 156 383), 13 years (n = 163 729) and 15 years (n = 159 562). The trends in meeting the recommendations for PA (at least 60 min daily) were evaluated using logistic regression.

Results: There was a slight overall increase between 2002 and 2010 (17.0% and 18.6%, respectively). MVPA increased significantly (P ≤ 0.05) among boys in 16 countries. Conversely, nine countries showed a significant decrease. Among girls, 10 countries showed a significant increase (P ≤ 0.05). Eight countries showed a significant decrease. For all countries combined, girls were slightly less likely to show an increase in PA over time.

Conclusions: The majority of adolescents do not meet current recommendations of PA. Further investment at national and international levels is therefore necessary to increase PA participation among children and adolescents and reduce the future health burden associated with inactivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adolescent Health*
  • Child
  • Europe
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • North America