Physical activity and health-related fitness in youth: a multivariate analysis

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998 May;30(5):709-14. doi: 10.1097/00005768-199805000-00011.


Purpose: To evaluate the relationship between indicators of physical activity and health-related fitness in youth 9-18 yr.

Methods: A cross-sectional sample of 356 boys and 284 girls 9-18 yr of age from phase I of the Quebec Family Study was studied. The sample was divided into three age groups by gender, 9-12, 13-15, and 16-18 yr of age. Physical activity variables included two estimates of activity, estimated daily energy expenditure (EE) and estimated moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and one estimate of inactivity, time spent watching television per day (TVTIME). Health-related fitness variables were the sum of six skin folds (SUM), number of sit-ups in 1 min (SITUP), physical work capacity at 150 beats x min(-1) (PWC150), and static strength of the leg (LMS). Partial canonical correlation was used to quantify the relationship between standardized (z-transformed) activity variables and health-related fitness items, controlling for age.

Results: There is a weak to moderate association between physical activity and fitness in youth. The first activity canonical variate is a function of positive loadings for EE and MVPA, with a smaller, negative loading for TVTIME. The first fitness variate generally includes positive loadings for PWC150 and SITUP, with a small negative loading for the SUM and a small positive loading for LMS. The first canonical correlations indicate that the variance shared by the fitness and activity variates ranges from 11 to 21%.

Conclusion: There is a significant relationship between activity and health-related physical fitness, but a large part of the variability (80-90%) in fitness is not accounted for by physical activity as measured in this study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Quebec
  • Risk Factors
  • Television