Patterns and Determinants of Physical Activity Among Saudi Adolescents

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Few studies have reported comprehensive and valid physical activity (PA) data for Saudi youth. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine patterns and determinants of PA among Saudi adolescents.


A cross-sectional study was conducted in Saudi secondary schools (15–19 years) during 2009/2010 and used multistage stratified cluster sample (N = 2866, 51.7% females). Weight, height, sedentary behaviors, PA, and dietary habits were assessed.


Roughly 44% of males and 20% of females were active (≥ 1 hour/day). Males in public schools were more active than in private schools, whereas the opposite was true for females. Females exercise mostly at home, whereas males exercise at public places. The majority of females exercise alone or with relatives, whereas males largely exercise with friends. Males were active for health and recreation whereas females were active for weight loss and recreation. Lack of time was the primary reason for inactivity in both sexes. The predictors of total PA time were gender, intakes of fruit, milk, energy drinks and vegetables and waist/height ratio (R2 = 0.145).


The high inactivity levels, especially among females, are of great concern. Promotion of active living among youth should be a national public health priority.

Al-Hazzaa ( and Alahmadi are with the Pediatric Exercise Physiology Research Laboratory, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Al-Sobayel is with the Dept of Rehabilitation Sciences, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Abahussain is with the School of Health, Ministry of Education, Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Qahwaji is with the Dept of Clinical Nutrition, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Musaiger is with the Deanship of Scientific Research, University of Bahrain, Manama, Bahrain.