Long-Term Trends of Participation in Physical Activity During Adolescence With Educational Ambition and Attainment

Jill Priesmeyer, Alicia L. Fedewa, Michael Toland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Insufficient physical activity is a significant concern because a growing body of research demonstrates that physical activity during adolescence has numerous benefits on physical health, mental health, and educational achievement. A less-studied area of physical activity research is how physical activity participation in adolescence relates to educational and career aspirations and attainment. METHODS: Using the Add Health dataset consisting of over 15,000 participants, this study addressed several research questions relating to the long-term benefits of habitual physical activity in adolescence. Physical activity levels in adolescence and associations with activity participation in later adolescence and young adulthood were explored as were relationships with physical activity participation in adolescence and educational ambition and attainment in young adulthood. Moderator variables including adolescent sex, race, and age were also examined. RESULTS: Results indicated several significant relationships between physical activity in adolescence and future physical activity and educational attainment outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: Given short- and long-term benefits of physical activity, school personnel and parents should ensure children are meeting the required activity guidelines for children and find ways to keep children active as they approach adolescence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-30
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of School Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Prior approval was obtained from the University of Kentucky Institutional Review Board. Further, this research uses data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Information on how to obtain the Add Health data files is available on the Add Health website (http://www.cpc.unc.edu/addhealth). No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, American School Health Association


  • child and adolescent health
  • physical fitness and sport
  • sedentary youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Philosophy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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