Gender Differences in Perceived Fitness Disappear When Exercise Activity Is Standardized

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal

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Taru LintunenDept of Physical Education University of Jyvaskyla PO Box 35, FIN-40351 Jyvaskyla, Finland

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Participation in sport is an important correlate of perceptions of physical competence, with physically active adolescents having more favorable perceptions than sedentary adolescents. Exercise activity has not, however, been standardized in earlier studies in which girls have consistently scored lower than boys in measures of perceived physical competence. The purpose of this study is to examine gender differences in perceived fitness among adolescents in relation to exercise activity during a four-year follow-up. The participants (n=88) were divided into sedentary (20 girls, 15 boys), physically active (10 girls, 20 boys), and highly active (8 girls, 15 boys) groups. Perceived physical competence was measured by Lintunen’s Perceived Fitness Scale. Data were analyzed using one-and twoway analyses of variance and the least significant difference test. No differences were found in perceived fitness between the girls and boys in any activity group at any age. More physically active groups showed higher perceived fitness among both sexes than the sedentary group when measured at the ages 11,12,13,14, and 15. I concluded that physical activity level is more important than gender as a determinant of perceived physical competence. Boys are, on the average, more actively involved in exercise than girls. This may be the reason that they have consistently scored higher in measures of perceived physical competence.

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