Adolescent physical activity and sedentary behavior: Patterning and long-term maintenance

Melissa C. Nelson, Penny Gordon-Larsen, Linda S. Adair, Barry M. Popkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Background: Little is known about physical activity (PA) and sedentary behavior patterning or its impact on long-term PA sustainability, particularly during the critical transition from adolescence to adulthood. Methods: Nationally representative self-reported data were collected (National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health: Wave I, 1994-1995; Wave II, 1996; Wave III, 2001-2002). Cluster analyses identified homogeneous groups of adolescents with similar PA and sedentary behaviors. Logistic regression predicted odds of meeting national activity recommendations in adolescence and young adulthood. Results: Seven clusters were characterized as follows: C1, high television (TV)/video, video gaming; C2, high skating, video gaming; C3, high sports participation with parents, high overall sports participation; C4, use of neighborhood recreation centers, high sports participation; C5, TV viewing limited by parents, moderate participation in school physical education (PE); C6, low parental TV control, reporting few activities overall; C7, active in school (team/individual sports, academic clubs, and PE). Odds of adolescents meeting PA recommendations were highest in C2 (odds ratio=13.1), C3 (5.8), C4 (4.2), and C7 (4.3) compared to C1. Independent of adolescent PA, absolute odds of meeting recommendations as young adults declined but were still relatively high in these clusters, indicating greater long-term PA sustainability. By young adulthood, however, overall PA declined dramatically in skaters/gamers (C2) and was notably low among those with TV viewing limited by parents (C5). Conclusions: While odds of meeting PA guidelines in adulthood declined in all clusters, the magnitude of this decline varied by cluster (declining most dramatically in skaters/gamers), providing insights into where to target effective intervention strategies that promote sustainable PA behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-266
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of preventive medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01-HD39183, R01-HD041375, and K01-HD044263), and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This research uses data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (grant P01-HD31921), with cooperative funding from 17 other agencies. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Persons interested in obtaining data files from Add Health should contact Add Health, Carolina Population Center, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill NC 27516-2524 ( ).

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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