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Background:

Physical education (PE) can be considered an instrument for active lifestyle promotion, and PE teachers can motivate youths to continue their studies in the field of Movement Sciences (MS).

Methods:

To evaluate the role of PE in higher secondary school in promoting physical activity (PA) and MS careers, previous PE experiences and current PA practice were investigated in a sample of Italian freshmen enrolled in different university degree courses.

Results:

A total of 7033 questionnaires were completed by students from 14 universities (41.3% males, mean age 20 ± 2.76 years). Recreation seemed to be the principal aim (42.2%) pursued during PE lessons, which are based mainly on practical activities (51.7%). Of all respondents, 67.2% were satisfied with the PE received during higher secondary school, and 51.6% participated in extracurricular PA. Current practice of PA was reported by 58.1% of the sample. Extracurricular activities were associated with choice of MS curricula (odds ratio: 2.15; 95% confidence interval, 1.85–2.50) and with current practice of PA (odds ratio: 1.68, 95% confidence interval, 1.51–1.87). Geographical differences concerning lessons organization and satisfaction were registered (P < .01).

Conclusions:

To enhance its role in health promotion, PE teaching should be improved by increasing the time allocated to PE and by strengthening the provision of school-based extracurricular PA.

Gallè and Liguori are with the Dept of Movement Sciences and Wellbeing; Di Onofrio is with the Dept of Sciences and Technologies; University of Naples Parthenope, Italy. Barbone and Parpinel are with the Dept of Medical and Biological Sciences, University of Udine, Italy. Brandi and De Santi are with the Dept of Biomolecular Sciences, University Carlo Bo, Italy. Calimeri and Lo Giudice are with the Dept of Biomedical Sciences and Morphological and Functional Imaging, University of Messina, Italy. Carraro and Gorrasi are with the Dept of Public Health and Pediatric Sciences, University of Turin, Italy. Carraturo and Guida are with the Dept of Biology, University of Naples Federico II, Italy. Dallolio and Leoni are with the Dept of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, University of Bologna, Italy. De Meo and La Milia are with the Institute of Public Health, Catholic University of Sacred Heart, Italy. Fantuzzi is with the Dept of Diagnostic and Clinical Medicine and Public Health, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy. Fortunato and Pratoare with the Dept of Medical and Surgical Sciences, University of Foggia, Italy. Minelli is with the Dept of Experimental Medicine, University of Perugia, Italy. Napoli is with the Dept of Surgical and Medical Sciences and Translational Medicine, Sapienza University, Italy. Pasquarella and Signorelli are with the Dept of Biomedical, Biotechnological, and Translational Sciences, University of Parma, Italy. Spica and Valeriani are with the Dept of Movement, Human, and Health Sciences, University of Rome Foro Italico, Italy. Tafuri is with the Dept of Biomedical Sciences and Human Oncology, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy.

Liguori (giorgio.liguori@uniparthenope.it) is corresponding author.