Gender differences in physical activity and determinants of physical activity in rural fifth grade children

J Sch Health. 1996 Apr;66(4):145-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.1996.tb08235.x.


This study determined if gender differences in physical activity could be accounted for by differences in selected social-cognitive determinants of activity behavior. Some 334 fifth grade, predominantly African-American students provided information regarding after-school physical activity and the hypothesized determinants of activity behavior. Boys reported significantly greater participation in vigorous ( > or = 6 METs) and in moderate to vigorous ( > or = 4 METs). Relative to girls, boys demonstrated higher levels of physical fitness, greater self-efficacy in overcoming barriers to physical activity, greater amounts of television watching, and higher levels of participation in community sports and physical activity organizations. When mean physical activity scores for girls and boys were adjusted for the effects of these determinant variables, the significant gender difference in physical activity remained. However, adjustment for self-efficacy in overcoming barriers and community sports reduced the gender gap by 5% and 7%, respectively. In contrast, adjustment for television watching increased the gender gap by about 8%. Results indicated perceived confidence in overcoming barriers to physical activity and participation in community physical activity programs are factors related to the gender difference in physical activity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environment
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Rural Health*
  • Rural Population
  • Sex Factors