Age and Sex Differences in Physical Activity of Portuguese Adolescents

Faculty of Sports, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal.
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (Impact Factor: 3.98). 02/2008; 40(1):65-70. DOI: 10.1249/mss.0b013e3181593e18
Source: PubMed


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.

Download full-text


Available from: André Seabra
  • Source
    • "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). "

    Full-text · Article · Dec 2011
  • Source
    • "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. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    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.
    Full-text · Article · May 2011 · American Journal of Human Biology
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: RESUMO O objectivo central do presente estudo consistiu em investigar a associação do meio (urbano, semi-urbano e rural) à activida-de física e à aptidão na criança e no adolescente madeirense. A amostra foi constituída por 1498 sujeitos, 758 rapazes e 740 raparigas, que participaram no 'Estudo de Crescimento da Madeira'. A actividade física e a aptidão foram avaliadas através do questionário de Baecke e da bateria de testes motores Eurofit, respectivamente. As crianças e adolescentes madeirenses do meio urbano apre-sentaram valores mais elevados de prática regular e sistemática de um ou mais desportos. Os resultados para as componentes da aptidão física não favorecem um único meio sócio-geográfi-co. Os rapazes do meio urbano e/ou semi-urbano foram mais proficientes na flexibilidade, força e resistência muscular, e potência, enquanto os rapazes rurais apresentaram melhores resultados na resistência aeróbia, força estática, e velocidade/agilidade. As raparigas do meio urbano e/ou semi-urbano apresentaram melhores resultados na velocidade/agili-dade, enquanto as raparigas do meio rural foram mais profi-cientes na força estática e na força e resistência muscular. A eliminação dos diferenciais negativos na actividade física e na aptidão associados ao meio sócio-geográfico irá resultar numa melhor saúde das crianças e adolescentes madeirenses. Palavras-chave: actividade física, aptidão física, envolvimento, crianças, Portugal ABSTRACT Environmental correlates of physical activity and fitness in youngsters from Madeira The main purpose of this study was to investigate the association between the area of residence (urban, semi-urban and rural) and physi-cal activity and fitness in children and adolescents from Madeira island. The sample included 1498 participants, 758 boys and 740 girls, of the 'Madeira Growth Study'. Physical activity was assessed by means of a questionnaire and physical fitness was measured with the Eurofit test battery. Children and adolescents from urban areas showed higher values in reg-ular sports and activities. Results for physical fitness do not favour one socio-geographic group. Boys from urban and semi-urban area's per-formed significantly better for flexibility, upper body muscular endurance, abdominal strength and power, whereas boys from the rural area performed better for aerobic endurance, static strength, running speed, agility and balance. Girls from urban and semi-urban area's obtained better results for running speed and agility, whereas girls from rural area performed better for static strength and upper body muscu-lar endurance. Programmes aimed at the elimination of urban-rural differences in physical activity and fitness, associated to socio-geographic area, should focus on increasing specific fitness levels, which might result in improved health conditions of children and adolescents living in Madeira.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2008
Show more