Article

Age and Sex Differences in Physical Activity of Portuguese Adolescents

Faculty of Sports, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal.
Medicine &amp Science in Sports &amp Exercise (Impact Factor: 4.46). 02/2008; 40(1):65-70. DOI: 10.1249/mss.0b013e3181593e18
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This study sought to examine sex- and age-associated variations in physical activity (PA) among Portuguese adolescents aged 10-18 yr.
A total of 12,577 males and females at the primary or secondary education level were sampled across four regions of Portugal. PA was assessed by a questionnaire, producing four different indexes: work/school (WSI), sport (SI), leisure time (LI), and total physical activity index (PAI). We examined sex and age differences by using two-way analysis of variance.
Males had higher mean values of PA than did females. In both sexes, mean values for all four PA indexes increased from ages 10 to 16 yr. After age 16, females decreased their mean values, whereas males continued to increase their values (except for LI). In both sexes, the average annual rate of change for the mean values of all four PA indexes correspond to three sensitive age periods (10-13, 13-16, and 16-18 yr). Until age 16, average mean changes for females ranged from +0.7 to +1.6% per year, except for SI in the youngest group (a modest decrease). For males under 16 yr, the pattern was similar, with increases ranging from 0.4 to 1.9% per year. After age 16, females experienced decreases of 1-2.1% per year for the four PA indexes, whereas males showed an increase for three indexes and an average decrease of 1.3% per year for LI.
These results suggest that it is important to consider sex differences in PA levels among Portuguese adolescents. Unlike their male counterparts, Portuguese females may reduce much of their PA during late adolescence.

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    • "In the literature, previous studies showed age-related declines in activity and gender differences with boys being more active than girls from childhood to adolescence and young adulthood (Riddoch et al., 2004; Teixeira et al., 2008; Thompson et al., 2005; Trost et al., 2002; Van Mechelen et al., 2000). In this study, across all school levels , boys spent more time in MPA to VHPA than the girls. "
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    ABSTRACT: To investigate changes in time spent in light (LPA), moderate (MPA), vigorous (VPA), very high physical activity (VHPA) from childhood to adolescence, according to age and sex, when measured with high frequency accelerometry. Three hundred and sixty-one children, 94 preschoolers (Ps), 156 from primary schools (PS) and 111 from junior high schools (JHS)) were involved in this study. The children's physical activity was assessed with a uniaxial accelerometer over a seven-day period. The epoch duration was set at 5 s and data collected between 7 am and 9 pm. The times spent below and above different PA thresholds, corresponding from LPA (<3 METs) to VHPA (>9 METs), were calculated. During the week, the boys spent significantly more time in MPA to VHPA than the girls (p < 0.001). From Ps to PS, LPA remained stable, while VPA and VHPA decreased significantly (p < 0.05). From PS to JHS, time spent in LPA, VPA, and VHPA increased significantly (p < 0.05). On the contrary, MPA increased significantly (p < 0.05) between Ps and PS and decreased significantly (p < 0.05) from PS to JHS. From PS to JHS, time spent in LPA increased significantly more during free days than during school days (p < 0.05) while VPA and VHPA increased significantly (p < 0.05) more during school days than during free days. Moderate to very high PA decreased from childhood to adolescence. Changes in PA patterns were associated with an increase of LPA and a concomitant decrease of MPA, while changes were more pronounced during free days than during school days.
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    • "Studies in several countries, mainly in North America and Europe, have shown that among older children and adolescents, girls are generally less physically active than are boys (e.g., Hagger et al., 1998; Andersen et al., 1998; Kristjansdottir & Vilhjalmson, 2001; Woodfield et al., 2002; Klasson-Heggebø & Anderssen, 2003; Cardon et al., 2005; Raudsepp, 2006; Seabra, 2007; Salonna, 2008). This gender difference appears at an early age (six-year-olds: Manios et al., 1999; three-to five-year-olds: Hussey et al., 2001; Pate et al., 2004). "
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