Several studies have reported an age-related decline of physical activity (PA). We examined the impact of 4 important transitional periods—adolescence, the beginning of postsecondary education, entry into the labor market, and parenthood—on the PA of participants in the Trois-Rivières quasi-experimental study.
In 2008, 44 women and 42 men aged 44.0 ± 1.2 years were given a semistructured interview; the frequency and duration of physical activities were examined during each of these transition periods. Subjects had been assigned to either an experimental program [5 h of weekly physical education (PE) from Grades 1 to 6] or the standard curriculum (40 min of weekly PE) throughout primary school.
The percentage of individuals undertaking ≥ 5 h of PA per week decreased from 70.4% to 17.0% between adolescence and midlife. The largest decline occurred on entering the labor market (from 55.9% to 23.4%). At midlife, there were no significant differences of PA level between experimental and control groups. Men were more active than women at each transition except for parenthood.
Our results highlight a progressive nonlinear decline of PA involvement in both groups. Promotion initiatives should target these periods to prevent the decline of PA.
Larouche, Laurencelle, and Trudeau are with the Dept of Physical Activity Sciences, University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières, Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada. Shephard is with the Faculty of Physical Education & Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.