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Melisa Comte, Erin Hobin, Steve Manske, Catherine Casey, Jane Griffith, Carly Leggett, Paul Veugelers, Donna Murnaghan, and Jonathan McGavock


The purpose of this study was to determine if participation in physical education (PE) was associated with increased moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) levels in adolescents.


This was a cross sectional study comparing MVPA levels in senior-years students—grade 11 and 12—enrolled in high school PE during the semester data were collected compared with those not enrolled in PE in that same semester. The primary outcome measure was daily MVPA measured by accelerometry. The primary exposure was participation in PE.


Among the 508 adolescents (16.9 ± 0.8 yrs, 49% female, n = 338 exposed to PE) studied, no differences in MVPA (47.0 ± 25.8 vs. 43.9 ± 25.0 mins/day, P = .25) or sedentary time (540.2 ± 94.7 vs. 550.2 ± 79.4 mins/day, P = .79) were noted between students enrolled in PE compared with students not enrolled in PE. Participation in PE was associated with a greater odds of achieving >60 minutes of MVPA daily (OR: 1.69; 95% CI: 1.04−2.75). This association was stronger among boys (OR: 2.4; 95% CI: 1.2−4.8) than girls (OR: 1.17; 95% CI: 5−2.7).


Enrollment in PE in grade 11 or 12 is associated with modestly higher levels of MVPA and an increased likelihood of meeting PA guidelines among students in grades 11 and 12, particularly among boys.