Physical activity levels among urban adolescent females.

Journal of pediatric and adolescent gynecology

PubMedID: 12547658

Saxena R, Borzekowski DL, Rickert VI. Physical activity levels among urban adolescent females. J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2002;15(5):279-84.
To examine the proportion of girls engaging in vigorous physical activity in a sample of inner-city adolescent girls and to identify factors associated with this level of exercise. In addition, to report perceived barriers to exercise.

Prospective cross-sectional survey.

Primary care health center.

Females residing in a large northeastern city aged 12-21 yr (n = 305) who presented to a primary care site between September 2000 and May 2001 were consecutively recruited.

In addition to being measured for height and weight, each subject anonymously completed a self-report instrument assessing demographic and reproductive characteristics, weight concerns, number of friends who exercise, medical conditions limiting exercise, and efforts to alter weight status. To compare with other published research, we used standardized measures of vigorous physical activity. We also inquired about parent's weight, exercise, and health status. Finally, each subject was asked about access to physical education classes as well as perceived barriers to exercise.

We found that 30.5% (n = 93) of inner-city females reported engaging in regular vigorous exercise in the last week, while 46.6% (n = 142) reported no physical activity. Five factors were significantly associated with regular vigorous exercise including: most or all friends exercised (AOR = 4.72); involved with a sports team (AOR = 3.59); trying to lose weight (AOR = 2.92); believing in the importance of exercise (AOR = 2.37; and being less than 17 years of age (AOR = 2.18). Time constraints and laziness were the most common reasons given for not engaging in physical activity.

Among this sample of primarily minority, inner-city females, engaging in regular vigorous physical activity was much less than has been suggested by other studies. Research efforts to accurately measure physical activity levels among inner-city youth must continue concurrent to the development of health promotion interventions.