We know very little about physical activity in children with long-term illness or disability compared with those children without disabilities. Previous studies indicate low physical activity levels among all adolescents.
The sample consisted of Canadian (n = 2720) and Finnish pupils (n = 3459) approximately 13.5 and 15.5 years of age in general (mainstreamed) education. The study is a part of the Health Behavior in School-aged Children (HBSC) study. Nationally representative data were collected in 2002 using a standardized questionnaire. The moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity screening measure was used.
Approximately one-fifth of the pupils in both countries had a long-term disability, illness or medical condition. In both countries boys and girls with a long-term illness or disability were equally physically inactive, and adolescents with a long-term illness or disability were as physically active as those without disabilities.
There is no difference between young people with and without long-term illness/disability, and between boys and girls, in relation to their physical activity. However, all of them fall short of recommended guidelines. This indicates that promoting a physically active lifestyle should be of high priority in the lives of young people.