University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: Physical fitness and leisure time physical activity in adolescence and in adulthood − A 25-year secular trend and follow-up study (Huotari)

Start date: Mar 03, 2012 12:00 AM

End date: Mar 03, 2012 03:00 PM

Location: Seminaarinmäki, Seminarium, S 212

Pertti HuotariLic.Ph. Pertti Huotari defends his doctoral dissertation titled ”Physical fitness and leisure time physical activity in adolescence and in adulthood − A 25-year secular trend and follow-up study”. Opponent Research Professor Tommi Vasankari (UKK Institute, Tampere) and custos Professor Emeritus Lauri Laakso (University of Jyväskylä).

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to investigate the secular changes in physical fitness determined by leisure-time physical activity among Finnish adolescents and how physical fitness and leisure-time physical activity in adolescence predict leisure time-physical activity and self-estimated fitness in adulthood. In 1976 and in 2001, trained measuring teams carried out measurements of physical fitness and leisure-time physical activity among 9- to 21-year-old Finnish adolescents in their schools.

In 1976 (n= 2796) data were collected from 56 comprehensive and high schools and in 2001 (n= 1041) from 17 of the schools that participated in 1976 measurements. In addition, in 2001, a follow-up questionnaire was collected from 1525 37- to 43-year-old adults who had taken part in the fitness tests or answered the questionnaire at age 12-18 in 1976. The secular trend study showed that aerobic fitness had declined and muscular fitness slightly improved among Finnish adolescents during the 25- year period.

Polarization in fitness had increased over the period and participation in leisure-time physical activity was a stronger determinant of fitness in 2001 than 1976. In the follow-up study leisure-time physical activity in adolescence predicted leisure-time physical activity and self-estimated fitness in adulthood. The association between leisure-time physical activity in adolescence and leisure-time physical activity in adulthood was higher from age 16-18 to 41-43- years than from age 12-15- to 37-40- years.

Physical fitness in adolescence predicted leisure-time physical activity in adulthood among males but not among females. In addition, adolescents who were physically active or had a high fitness level gave higher estimations of their physical fitness in adulthood than adolescents who were physically inactive or had a low fitness level. On the basis of both the secular trend and follow-up studies, active participation in leisure-time physical activity is essential for maintaining a high level of physical fitness from adolescence to adulthood.

The fitness level of physically active adolescents is good whereas that of physically inactive adolescents is alarming. The findings of this study support the view that it is important to enhance adolescents’ leisure-time physical activity. Due to the increased polarization in fitness, as determined by physical activity, more attention should be paid to the level of physical activity among the most inactive adolescents.

Keywords: physical fitness, physical activity, adolescents, secular trend, follow-up

Further information

Pertti Huotari, pertti.huotari@jyu.fi

The dissertation is published in the series LIKES – Research Reports on Sport and Health 255, 104 p., Jyväskylä 2012, ISSN 0357-2498, ISBN 978-951-790-308-0. Inquiries: http://www.likes.fi/kauppa/orders.asp?Function=Details&ID=349.

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