This study examined associations between sports participation, physical activity, fitness level, and body mass index in ninth-grade girls.
Data were analyzed for 221 participants who completed sports participation and physical activity recall questionnaires, an aerobic step test, and height and weight measurement.
On average, participants had low physical activity levels, and many were overweight or obese (47%). About half participated in at least one organized sport in the previous year. Sports participants had higher current estimated energy expenditure compared with non-sports participants (P = .0007). Those who participated on at least two teams were more likely to complete the three-stage step test without reaching their target heart rate than those who did not participate on any teams (P < .03). Past sports participation was positively associated with current physical activity and fitness levels.
Urban adolescent girls who participate in sports have increased energy expenditure and higher fitness levels, indicating sports as a potential strategy to improve physical activity and health in this population.
The authors are with the Dept of Kinesiology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742.