High Levels of Physical Activity and Cardiorespiratory Fitness are Associated With Good Self-Rated Health in Adolescents

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Adolescent self-rated health is a strong predictor of future illness. In this study we investigated whether physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness are associated with self-rated health among adolescents aged 16 years.


The study sample comprised 7,063 adolescents from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986 (NFBC 1986) who responded to a postal questionnaire in 2001 to 2002. Self-rated health was measured by a single-item question, while physical activity was evaluated by a set of questions concerning the intensity and volume of physical activity outside school hours. Cardiorespiratory fitness was measured with a submaximal cycle ergometer test. Odds ratios (OR) and their 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for good self-rated health were obtained from multinomial logistic regression.


High levels of physical activity (boys: OR 5.50, 95% CI 3.16 to 9.58; girls: OR 4.25, 95% CI 2.37 to 7.61) and cardiorespiratory fitness (boys: OR 1.85, 95% CI 1.05 to 3.24; girls: OR 2.62, 95% CI 1.47 to 4.66) were associated with very good self-rated health in adolescents.


High levels of physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness are positively associated with adolescents’ self-rated health. Public health promotion activities that foster physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness may benefit young people’s overall health and well-being.

Kantomaa (m.kantomaa@imperial.ac.uk) and Tammelin are with LIKES – Research Center for Sport and Health Sciences, Jyväskylä, Finland. Kantomaa is also with the Dept of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Imperial College London, London, UK. Ebeling is with the Institute of Clinical Medicine, Dept of Child Psychiatry, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland; and the Clinic of Child Psychiatry, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland. Stamatakis is with Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, Australia; Exercise and Sport Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia; and Physical Activity Research Group, Dept of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK. Taanila is with the Institute of Health Sciences, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland.