Adolescent Physical Education Class Participation as a Predictor for Adult Physical Activity

BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to determine whether engagement in more physical education (PE) classes during one high school year is associated with change in physical activity (PA) from adolescence to young adulthood.

METHODS: Data were from 1774 participants in Waves 2 (high school, 1996) and 4 (young adulthood, 2008) of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. The predictor was number of PE classes/week in high school (daily, some, or none). The outcome was change in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (ΔMVPA) over the 12-year period. ΔMVPA was based on differences in MVPA scores derived at each wave from responses to a physical activity behavior recall (range, -9 to 9 scale score or -15 to 15 MVPA episodes/week). Multivariable generalized linear models examined the association between PE participation and ΔMVPA, adjusting for sociodemographics, weight status, and school clustering.

RESULTS: In high school, 34.7% participated in daily PE, whereas 50.1% participated in none. Participation in more PE classes was associated with greater MVPA in high school (mean MVPAW2none = 3.11, standard deviation [SD] = 1.99; mean MVPAW2some = 3.70, SD = 2.00; mean MVPAW2daily = 4.31, SD = 1.95; p < 0.0001). Overall, MVPA decreased over the 12 years (median ΔMVPA = -1.0, or 1-2 MVPA episodes/week). MVPA decreased more for males (median ΔMVPAmale = -1.0, interquartile range [IQR] = -3.0 ± 1.0; median ΔMVPAfemale = 0.0, IQR = -2.0 ± 2.0; p < 0.0001) and those who had participated in some/daily PE (median ΔMVPAsome = -1.0, IQR = -3.0 ± 1.0; median ΔMVPAdaily = -1.0, IQR = -3.0 ± 1.0) than those not in PE (median ΔMVPAnone = 0.0, IQR = -2.0 ± 2.0; p < 0.0001). The relationship between PE and ΔMVPA was maintained in multivariable analyses (βsome = -0.58, standard error [SE] = 0.18; p = 0.002; βdaily = -0.93, SE = 0.16; p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: High school PE participation did not prevent declining PA from adolescence to young adulthood.

Authors

Palakshappa D, Virudachalam S, Oreskovic NM, Goodman E