Research Study Abstract

A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Adolescents' Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviours in Spain and France Across a Scholar Year

  • Added on July 5, 2012

Introduction Evidences show that physical activity (PA) has important health benefits in youth. However, incidental PA and exercise declines during adolescence (Van der Horst et al., 2007). There is also an emerging concern about the negative effect that sedentary lifestyles are having on the health of youth (Pate et al., 2011). The main aim of this study is to describe and compare levels of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and sedentary activity (SA) in adolescents in two European countries throughout one scholar year.

Method The sample consisted of 179 adolescents (48% Spanish; 58,7% girls) with a mean age of 14.40 ± 0.66 years. The GT3X accelerometer was used to assess PA intensities continuously during waking hours of two 7 day periods, at the beginning and at the end respectively, of the scholar year. Two 2x2x2x2 (country by gender by period of the week by moment of the measure) ANCOVA with repeated measures on the two last factors were conducted with MVPA and SA as dependant variables. BMI, socioeconomic status, temperatures and precipitations were used as co-variables.

Results No significant differences were found nor MVPA neither SA according to the moment of the measure in the scholar year. However, Spanish adolescents revealed significant higher levels of MVPA than French subjects. Significant effects of gender (more engaged time of boys than girls) and period of the week (higher levels during weekdays) were also found. High levels of SA were appreciated, but no main significant effects were found. MVPA and SA showed a significant negative correlation in both moments of measure.

Discussion Consistently with other studies our results offer evidence for the low MVPA levels in adolescents, being lower in girls (Nader et al., 2008). High levels of SA levels are also reported in our study (Pate et al., 2011), underlying one of the biggest concerns of our society. Moreover, our results seem to be consistent with the hypothesis that sedentary behaviours replace PA (Van der Horst et al., 2007).

References Nader, P. R., R. H. Bradley, R. M. Houts, S. L. McRitchie, and M. O’Brien. ’Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity from Ages 9 to 15 Years.’ JAMA – Journal of the American Medical Association 300, no. 3 (2008): 295-305. Pate, R. R., J. A. Mitchell, W. Byun, and M. Dowda. ’Sedentary Behaviour in Youth.’ British Journal of Sports Medicine 45, no. 11 (2011): 906-913. Van Der Horst, K., M. J. C. A. Paw, J. W. R. Twisk, and W. Van Mechelen. ’A Brief Review on Correlates of Physical Activity and Sedentariness in Youth.’ Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 39, no. 8 (2007): 1241-1250.